02/08/2018, 7:00 pm. Location TBA
Residents in Bastrop oppose Trump’s end to DACA program
Natalia DePaz says her heart breaks for some members of her family as well as for about 800,000 people who have benefited from an Obama-era immigration program that the Trump administration said it was rescinding.
This picture features (from right to left) Karen Sterling, Phil Freeman and Dayna Beck, precinct chair.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Sept. 5 that the Trump administration was rescinding and phasing out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows undocumented immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as children to get temporary work permits and avoid deportation.
“It breaks my heart to know that they’re struggling through that and they’re unaware of what could happen to them and what the next steps are,” DePaz said of immigrants now left in limbo after Session’s announcement. “I don’t agree with anything of what Trump decided to do to just to get it out and give certain amount of time for Congress to make a new law.”
DePaz was one of nearly 30 residents who lined the Old Iron Bridge in Bastrop last week wielding signs in support of DACA and protesting Trump’s move to rescind the immigration program.
“I would want (Trump) to understand that DACA is very important for a lot of people, and immigrants are who make up this country,” DePaz said. “Everybody is an American. It doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter where you come from, you have rights and you deserve those rights.”
Smithville resident Ginger Redden, who helped organize the Sept. 20 rally in Bastrop, said that from an early age her parents, who went to segregated schools, ingrained in her to treat everybody fairly, that everyone was equal.
“These are basic principles that I was raised with — and it seemed like they had been progressing for quite a long time — and lately it’s like you’ve been given permission to be a jerk to everyone and this is not how I grew up,” Redden said. “I feel like we’ve come a long way in terms of rights for women, LGBTQ rights, and now all of that feels like it’s falling back. And it’s frightening. This is not the America where I grew up and believe in.”
In a Sept. 5 memo, the Department of Homeland Security said people who currently have permits under the DACA program will not have them rescinded. Instead, they will be allowed to expire after two years.
Sessions said Obama “deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions” with the executive order that created DACA.
“If we are to further our goal of strengthening the Constitutional order and rule of law in America, the Department of Justice cannot defend this overreach,” Sessions said.
Trump said in a statement that the plan is to phase out DACA, allowing for “a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act.” On Twitter, he said he was looking forward to working with Democrats and Republicans to reform immigration “in a way that puts hardworking citizens of our country 1st.”
White House officials have said immigrants with DACA permits that expire on or before March 5 are allowed to seek renewals by Oct. 5.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll released Monday showed 86 percent of Americans support a right to residency for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children.
“We care about our friends and neighbors and the young people in our communities,” Redden said. “We are saying, ‘Hey, this is not OK, this is not the America we were raised in and we’re going to speak up about it.”
DePaz and several students at the Colorado River Collegiate Academy formed a Young Democrats club to empower youth to speak up on important issues like DACA.
“DACA is a prime example of an issue that is urgent for our youth to speak up for because there are students and other people in our community who are affected by it,” the new student group said in a statement.