‘This Works': San Diegans Gather to Speak on Impact of Decision to End DACA

The program has helped an estimated 40,000 San Diegans

San Diegans from across the County came out to Downtown San Diego to speak out against the Trump administration's decision to end a 2012 executive order that granted deportation protections to young immigrants.

"This works. DACA works. And the fact that the Trump administration decided to end that, even with all of the proof of the benefits of the program - it’s just shameful," said Itzelguillen, an immigrant integration manager at Alliance San Diego and DACA recipient.

She was one of dozens from the San Diego Immigrants Rights Consortium who gathered at the County Administration Center on Pacific Highway to speak about ways the program's end would impact their lives. 

New applications will be halted for President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has provided nearly 800,000 young immigrants a reprieve from deportation and the ability to work legally in the U.S. in the form of two-year, renewable work permits.

The program has helped an estimated 40,000 San Diegans, including Jesus, a DACA recipient, and human rights organizer at Alliance San Diego.

"Today’s announcement fills me with intense emotions, not only for myself as a DACA recipient but for all DACA recipients across the country," said Jesus.

He first came to the U.S. when he was five years old with his family, he said. He grew up here and worked here, and worries about the future.

The Trump administration is giving Congress six months to come up with a legislative fix — "should it choose to," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said — before the government stops renewing permits for people already covered by the program.

"Let’s remember to take care of each other through this and beyond," Jesus said. "During this legislative battle ahead, we must hold true to our values and our worth and not be swayed by so-called bargains that chose to pit us against our communities, that promise a pathway to citizenship at the expense of our parents."

Itzelguillen told NBC 7 the issue is not a Latino issue alone. 

"There are many out there that are undocumented or have DACA that are of Asian or Pacific Islander descent," she said.

Itzelguillen was born in Mexico City and came to the U.S. when she was five years old. She grew up here and just graduated from San Diego State University.

She has become increasingly worried about her safety since she started sharing her story. 

"It’s gotten ten times more scary knowing that there’s a lot of hate growing out there in the country," she said. "To know my face has been exposed, I am afraid. I am afraid for myself and I am afraid for my other DACA fellow community members that have also exposed themselves."

National City Councilmember Alejandra Sotelo-Solis said the DACA program "embodies the ideals and values we treasure as a nation." She chided Trump for using young Dreamers as "political bargaining chips."

Trump said he has "great love" for young immigrants covered by DACA, says he hopes Congress will act.

"This is a sinister deal that essentially trades the lives and the safety of our young dreamers for the safety of their parents and our community members," she said.

To learn more about the specifics of Tuesday's announcement, click here.

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