Protestors took to the streets across the nation Tuesday after President Donald Trump's decision to phase out a program for thousands of young immigrants who were brought into the United States illegally as children.
Police in New York handcuffed and removed over a dozen immigration activists who briefly blocked Fifth Avenue in Manhattan in front of Trump Tower. The protest Tuesday began with a march down the street and grew to about 400 people. Some cried as they held hands during a sit-in.
In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel told youths at a high school with a large number of students in the country illegally that they are welcome. The mayor says Chicago schools will be a "Trump-free zone."
In Los Angeles, city and county officials plan to express their opposition at midday.
DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, provided temporary protected status from deportation -- and offered work permits to certain immigrants who came to the United States as children.
Although no protests were reported in Idaho, those on both sides were quick to issues statements.
“Our nation is strongest when every one of us can contribute and share ideas, and when everyone’s basic rights and dignity are respected. The DACA program does just that, enabling young Dreamers to fully participate in their education, work, and family life, and to contribute to our nation’s social fabric and economic engine,” said Idaho ACLU spokesman Leo Morales. “The President failed in taking moral leadership to protect the lives of nearly 800,000 young aspiring Americans living in the United States under DACA status. DACA served as the lifeline for immigrants who came here as children seeking a better future, and now the threat of deportation hangs over their heads.
“Today’s action is no way to lead a nation with heart,” he stated. The decision reminds us of a racialized history and division in our nation that chooses winners and losers at the expense of progress for everyone, regardless of where someone was born or the color their skin. Actual lives of Idahoans have been put in jeopardy. Immigrants are critical to the vibrancy of Idaho’s culture and economy, and our success as a nation is bound to our common American experience as a nation of immigrants.
“In Idaho, the President’s decision to terminate the program is devastating for all of us,” he added. “Congress now carries the responsibility to make this right. Congress must pass the bipartisan Dream Act immediately to protect these young Americans. Our Idaho delegation needs to step up and join other members of Congress to resolve this issue once and for all and bring about permanent security and stability to the lives of DACA recipients and their loved ones.”
Meantime, Congressman Raul Labrador (R-ID), Chairman of the House Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee, applauded President Trump's decision.
"I have consistently opposed DACA because it's an unconstitutional program that undermines the rule of law," said Labrador. "I applaud President Trump for respecting the Constitution and keeping a campaign promise. Through his action today, President Trump is creating leverage for larger immigration reform, which should include border wall funding and stronger interior enforcement. As Chairman of the Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee, I will continue working with my colleagues and the Administration on fixing all aspects of our broken immigration system."
Approximately 800,000 illegal immigrants are currently enrolled in DACA and up to 900,000 others were eligible for the program, Labrador added,
Republican Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden sided with Labrador by stating, "I've long held that DACA was created through an unconstitutional executive order because -- under the Constitution -- the responsibility of creating immigration policy falls squarely on Congress. However, the root of this entire issue is Congress's failure to pass a law that takes into account the needs of everyday families, especially those families whose ties cross international borders. This announcement from the administration paves the way for our federal lawmakers to finally step up and deal with this very important issue once and for all.
Gov. “Butch” Otter also weighed in, saying: “I appreciate the Attorney General’s recognition of the constitutional problems with the Obama administration’s executive action. I also support the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to phase out the DACA program in a way that will minimize the impact on current DACA beneficiaries. In the meantime, I call on Congress to redouble its efforts to restore the effectiveness of and public confidence in our nation’s immigration system.”
(Associated Press contributed to this story)