On Tuesday, President Trump announced that his administration would end DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. “I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents,” he said in a written statement, according to the New York Times. “But we must also recognize that we are nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.”
His decision will affect about 800,000 undocumented immigrants whose families brought them to the U.S. as children, but who have been allowed to live and work in the country thanks to the program. Before it was announced, dozens of immigrants took to the streets in front of Trump Tower in New York to protest.
Movimiento Cosecha, which organized the protests, told Gothamist that 12 activists were arrested, nine of whom were Dreamers, or DACA recipients. Basilisa Alonso, a 27-year-old Dreamer who lives in Yonkers, said she came to the U.S. when she was three. “We knew that it was coming, but it’s still a shock,” she said of the president’s decision. She added that she was willing to risk arrest “for my family, for all of the other DACA people out there who are not public with their stories.” She was reportedly arrested minutes later.
Kevin Emanuel, a 21-year-old Dreamer who works for the New York State Youth Leadership Council, described next steps. “In the immediate aftermath we are going to start holding spaces where people can digest what happened today,” he said. “[Then] we can start thinking, okay, how are you going to get to work, drive, make money, get in-state tuition? All of the things that DACA supplied.”
It’s unclear whether Dreamers will be able to retain their protected status while Congress comes up with a replacement plan — something Trump urged them to do in his statement. Meanwhile, DACA recipients could reportedly face deportation as early as March.