Rally in defense of DACA at federal courthouse

Rally for DACA | Courtesy of WLKY

A rally in defense of the program that protects undocumented immigrants who come to the United States as children, known as Dreamers, was held outside the federal courthouse where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office is located in Louisville on Tuesday afternoon.

Those who attended the rally, sponsored by Mijente Louisville, said the program protected people who deserve to stay in the country from deportation. The Trump administration announced its intention to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program within six months on Tuesday.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that a wind down process for DACA would begin immediately. He said this would give Congress time to make immigration reform.

The New York Times reported that President Trump issued the following statement after urging Congress to replace DACA with legislation before it begins phasing out on March 5, 2018.

“I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents,” Trump said in a written statement. “But we must also recognize that we are a nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.

“Only by the reliable enforcement of immigration law can we produce safe communities, a robust middle class, and economic fairness for all Americans,” Trump said, calling the DACA program an “amnesty-first approach.”

Update: McConnell released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

“President Obama wrongly believed he had the authority to re-write our immigration law. Today’s action by President Trump corrects that fundamental mistake.

“This Congress will continue working on securing our border and ensuring a lawful system of immigration that works.”

Kate Miller, ACLU of Kentucky advocacy director, issued a statement Tuesday in response to the White House announcement rescinding DACA:

“Five years ago, the federal government made a deal with immigrant youth: As long as you pass a criminal background check you can live, study, and work here. Hundreds of thousands of young people came out of the shadows and accepted the government’s offer in good faith and worked hard to build their lives here.

Today, the government and President Trump went back on their word, threw the lives and futures of 800,000 Dreamers and their families into disarray, and injected chaos and uncertainty into thousands of workplaces and communities across America.

In Kentucky alone, at least 3,100 of our neighbors used their DACA status to give back to our country in innumerable ways: they are our doctors, soldiers, and students. Our neighbors, family, and friends.

Now, the fate of 800,000 young adults, who call this country their home, lies in the hands of Congress. Kentucky lawmakers on the state and federal level must decide if they are on the side of Dreamers and our country’s foundation or on the side of the ugly forces that helped to end DACA.

While this is a hard day for the immigrant community and America as a whole, we will continue to fight. Years of courage, sacrifices, and organizing won the DACA program in 2012. Nothing will deter these Americans and our allies in the Commonwealth and across the country from continuing to fight on behalf of their futures and holding those responsible accountable.”

Congressman John Yarmuth (D-3rd district) also released a statement:.

“President Trump’s decision to terminate the DACA program and upend the lives of more than 800,000 innocent young people—nearly all of whom have never called any country home but the United States of America—is cruel, inhumane, and harmful to us all. These are people who were brought here as children, played by the rules, and earned diplomas. They contribute to their communities and participate in a workforce that wants and needs them. Denying them the opportunity to continue to live the only lives they know and to tear them away from their families simply to placate the savage demands of political extremists is morally bankrupt. These young people did everything asked of them. If we want to be a country that lives by our ideals, that rewards merit and hard work, it is our obligation to reject the president’s heartless decision.”

Last week, Mayor Greg Fischer voiced his support for Dreamers in his podcast.

Meanwhile, the New Americans Initiative said in a Facebook event post that it would join La Casita Center in presenting an information session on Thursday, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., on the program, its current status, and what to expect for the individuals and families that are affected. The center is at 223 E. Magnolia Avenue.

Insider Louisville staff contributed reporting. This post has been updated to include a statement from McConnell and to correct the organizer of the rally.