By Maggie Lee
As much of Atlanta skipped work or school on Labor Day, a few hundred folks gathered Downtown to rally in support of immigrants who want the permanent right to work or go to school.
The rally started outside immigration court on Ted Turner Drive about 10 a.m. Many folks carried signs in support of DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. That’s the Obama administration program that gives immigrants who entered the U.S. as minors illegally a renewable work permit and deferred action from deportation.
The rally came just one day before a key Sept. 5 deadline: Several states have said they will take legal action against the program if President Donald Trump hasn’t agreed to shut it down by that time. The rally kickoff came the morning after Politico reported that Trump has decided to end the program in six months.
If the program ends, it mean Congress would have to act in order for DACA recipients to get some sort of work authorization.
Organizers with bullhorns led the chatty, cheerful crowd in chanting “undocumented, unfraid” and other slogans in both English and Spanish. Folks born both inside and outside the U.S. marched the three blocks over to the Atlanta City Detention Center.
Federal agencies use space at the city jail to hold folks on immigration charges.
Marisol Estrada said she thanks her mom for bringing her to the U.S. when she was five years old. But the recent political science graduate wants the permanent right to work.
“With DACA I’m able to live without fear of deportation, I have a driver’s license, I have work authorization. But when DACA was introduced we knew it was a temporary program … we need to call on Congress so that the Dream Act is passed,” she said.
The latest proposed Dream Act, like other versions, would give law-abiding dreamers permanent legal residence.
Malinali Garcia is still in high school and said she would like to join the Air Force or work in criminal justice.
“If you end DACA you basically will end my education and my freedom of being here legally,” she said. “Just because we don’t have documents doesn’t make us any less.”
She said her sister is too young to get DACA and she’s afraid the girl won’t be able to go to high school or college.
Roger Gregorio said he started his landscaping business after he got DACA. He said DACA allowed him to do it.
“We are contributing so give us what we rightfully deserve,” said Gregorio.
The rally was organized by several groups including the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights.