An Obama-era program, which provides a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation to certain illegal immigrants who entered the country as minors, is in danger of being revoked by the White House.
Known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the immigration policy founded in June 2012 has so far granted almost 800,000 young immigrants the ability to legally work and get higher education in the United States.
Since August 15, some beneficiaries of DACA, also known as “DREAMers”, have begun staging a 24-hour vigil outside the White House in an effort to appeal to President Donald Trump to stay true to his word of treating the undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children “with heart.”
The demonstrations are a response to a report last week that the Trump administration was considering putting an end to the program after some states threatened to sue over its continuation.
Multiple immigrant advocacy groups, such as United We Dream, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), and New York Immigration Coalition have also joined the beneficiaries’ protests at the Lafayette Park north of the White House.
One of the vigil attendees is DACA recipient Angie Kim, 34, who told ThinkProgress that she wants the president to keep the program because that is her only lifeline.
While she moved to the U.S. from South Korea when she was nine years old, she somehow ended up being the “sole undocumented member” of her family because of some legal complications with the immigration system. Her other family members are legal immigrants or citizens.
“If I lose [DACA], I won’t be able to work and make a living,” Kim was quoted as saying. “It’s very much a program that directly impacts everyday livelihood of a lot of immigrants.”
While Trump has always maintained an aggressive stance on undocumented immigration, he appeared to be somewhat willing to consider leniency on the DACA policy on occasion.
In an interview with ABC right after his inauguration in January, Trump was quoted as saying, “They shouldn’t be very worried. I do have a big heart. We’re going to take care of everybody.”
He reiterated the same stance on Friday when he said, “We love the DREAMers. We love everybody.”
The White House said that it will announce a decision on the future of the DACA on Tuesday.