In advance of next week’s U.S. Supreme Court hearing on the validity of an Obama-era program that protects certain young immigrants from deportation, state and local lawmakers, immigrants and supporters rallied Friday in Denver.
Dozens gathered outside Denver City Hall to call public attention to next Tuesday’s arguments on the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“Home is here!” “Here to Stay!” they chanted.
DACA, which began in 2012, allows certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to be granted temporary protection from deportation. DACA recipients, or “dreamers” as they have come to be known, could also qualify for work permits under the program. There were about 15,000 DACA recipients in Colorado in 2017, according to the Center for American Progress (CAP), a progressive nonprofit.
“This administration wants us to lose our employment, the way in which many of us provide for our families, pay for our studies,” Gladis Ibarra, a DACA recipient, said in Spanish to the gathered crowd.
Colorado Congresswoman Diana DeGette, Congressman Jason Crow, Mayor Michael Hancock and state Rep. Leslie Herod joined the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, Mi Familia Vota, Indivisible Denver and the ACLU of Colorado on the city hall steps.
Hancock said he was confident that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of DACA, saying “we’re on the right side of the law, we’re on the right side of humanity and we’re on the right side of history.”
The origins of the Supreme Court case can be traced back to Sept. 5, 2017, when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it would begin phasing out the DACA program, despite President Trump’s early public declarations of support for its recipients. The administration has argued Obama did not have the legal authority to use executive authority to create the program.
But injunctions from district courts in New York and California in early 2018 forced the agency to allow recipients who already qualified for DACA to renew their status. DHS hasn’t accepted any new applicants to the program since 2017.
DeGette lambasted members of the Senate in her speech, saying the Senate’s failure to act on the Dream Act of 2019, which passed the House earlier this year and would expand the DACA program, “cannot be tolerated.”
Dreamers Ibarra and Alejandro Flores also shared their stories. Flores, a small-business owner, emphasized the economic addition dreamers make to their communities. The CAP estimates that ending DACA would cost the economy $460.3 billion over the next decade, removing an estimated 685,000 workers.
Ibarra, 29, is the campaign manager at the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, or CIRC. She’s the oldest of five siblings and came to the U.S. from Mexico when she was seven. She said she is scared, not only for herself, but for her two sisters who are also protected under DACA.
“The only thing worse than not having any sort of protections is seeing someone be able to get it then having that program be canceled,” she said.
In its court briefing, the Trump administration argued the decision to end DACA falls within DHS’ powers and is not applicable for review by the court. The brief also argues the decision is lawful and, citing a previous case, said the court “may not substitute [its] judgment for that of the [agency].”
Oral arguments for the case begin Nov. 12 with a decision expected by June at the latest.