Eleven undocumented youths arrived in Washington DC today after trekking for more than 250 miles from New York to protest US President Trump’s elimination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act and the government’s ongoing inaction around its renewal.
The march is called #WalkToStayHome.
“I feel like my parents and people around the country who are undocumented have sacrificed so much,” Li Adorno, one of the Dreamers said at the start of the march, according to Democracy Now.
“And like to this day, they’re criminalized every night in the evening news, right? And we feel like that’s not fair,” she said. “We’re asking for dignity and respect for everyone, right? Not just the DREAMers, because right now we’re getting a lot of attention.
Upon arrival, the DACA activists were lofting signs, chanting, and using what’s called the people’s microphone — when a crowd amplifies a speaker’s words by echoing them — to call for action, according to a live-streamed video posted by one of the activists.
In the livestream they can be heard chanting:
“I went down to the capital and I /
took what they stole from me and I /
took back my dignity and I /
took back my humanity and I’m /
up on my feet up on my feet aint no way they’ll take my freedom from me.”
Since September of last year, DACA recipients have been in a state of limbo after President Trump scrapped the program — which had provided temporary amnesty to people who immigrated to the US when they were children — and called on Congress to find a replacement.
Lawmakers have since been working to find a way to codify DACA into law, but Republicans and Democrats have been unable to reach a compromise, according to the New York Times.
In February, President Trump released his DACA proposal, but Democrats quickly rejected it because it called for stringent new immigration restrictions, including funds for a border wall and the elimination of family-based immigration.
The program was meant to expire March 5 if a replacement wasn’t found, but a federal judge blocked the president’s initial order, potentially indefinitely extending DACA’s protections.
DACA was enacted in 2012, after Congress failed to pass the “Dream Act” the year prior, which would have offered immigrants a “path to citizenship.”The goal of DACA was to provide temporary relief to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, allowing them to attend college, hold jobs, and receive driver’s licenses.
There are currently more than 800,000 people who have signed up for DACA, and a total of 3.6 million people who qualify for the Dreamer status, according to USA Today. Additionally, there are around 11.3 million undocumented immigrants throughout the country.
Read More: Dreamers of a New American Dream
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The march on Washington could galvanize further support for DACA legislation, according to the Nation.
“Politicians keep promising us like reforms or fixes, but nothing ever happens, right?” Adorno said. “So this walk is not necessarily towards politicians to change their mind, but more towards the community. We see that the community responds better than they do.”