Over 50 Southern Californians and local progressives gathered in Santa Clarita late Tuesday morning to show their support for undocumented immigrants.
Tuesday marked the five-year anniversary of former President Barack Obama’s executive order to protect individuals who are undocumented because they were brought to the United States as children, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which affects 223,000 people in California alone.
The group of protestors, some locals and others bused in from other areas, were organized by Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHILRA). The group made their second stop of the day at Congressman Steve Knight’s local office, targeting him and other Republican legislators based on their voting record on immigration reform.
“Steve Knight has not been voting in our favor,” CHILRA Political Director Apolonio Morales said. “He is just going to willfully deport his constituents and not provide permanent solutions. This affects families in your own backyard.”
Knight voted against a bill that prevents excessive detention of undocumented immigrants and others that would provide them with driver’s licenses and in-state college tuition. He voted in favor of law enforcement for sanctuary cities and anti-border corruption, according to votesmart.org.
Those demonstrating said elected officials in the House of Representatives and President Donald Trump are threats to DACA, asking the legislators to find long-term immigration solutions instead of resorting to deportation.
Also, attorney generals from 10 states and a governor threatened to sue the Executive Branch if they did not remove DACA protections by Sept. 5, claiming DACA is “unlawful.”
“Here in California, we recognize immigrants are integrated in our community,” Morales said. “When you take away a program like this, you’re not only hurting that immediate family, you’re hurting a whole community.”
In Los Angeles County alone, there are 900,000 people who are undocumented, Morales cited.
Rally leaders went into the building where Knight’s office is located to drop off a letter with their complaints and requests moving forward.
“They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds,” CHILRA Statewide Youth Organizer Melody Klingenfuss said, quoting a Mexican proverb. “We stand here united and we are here to resist.”
Maria Moran, a 24-year-old and Santa Clarita resident of 15 years, said her mother encouraged her to pursue her dream of going to culinary school by gaining protection under DACA.
“She’s a person that fights for her dreams,” Moran said about her mother.
Regardless of what President Trump decides, Moran said she will stand her ground and continue pursuing opportunities for immigrants.
“Whatever he does, we’re going to keep fighting harder and harder,” she said. “We’re here to stay. I feel confident.”
San Fernando Valley resident Paulina Jimenez was nearing her high school graduation when she applied for protection under DACA and said it gave her the opportunity to drive, pursue an education and get a job.
“I’m here to get the attention of Republican representatives,” Jimenez said. “DACA has allowed me to work so I can help pay for school.”
Los Angeles local Paulina Ruiz was attending community college when DACA was implemented, which she said allowed people like herself to “come out of the shadows.”
“It is not fair that politicians can just switch gears,” Ruiz said.