Donald Trump

Thousands March Brooklyn Bridge in New York to Protest DACA Announcement

The Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has given nearly 800,000 young immigrants a reprieve from deportation and the ability to work legally in the form of two-year, renewable work permits

Thousands marched across the Brooklyn Bridge Tuesday evening in protest after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration is ending the DACA program.

At least 13 were arrested, including one New York council member, adding to the 34 who were arrested hours earlier outside Trump Tower.

Earlier in the day, hundreds of immigrants and advocates from across the tri-state demonstrated in Manhattan and in Washington, D.C.

As Sessions delivered his remarks on the "winding down" of DACA Tuesday morning, dozens of demonstrators marched to Trump Tower in Manhattan, holding signs and chanting, "undocumented -- unafraid." Some sat in the middle of the street in front of Trump Tower, anticipating arrest, and were taken into police custody for blocking traffic.

By the afternoon, nearly three dozen people had been arrested in front of Trump Tower in two different rounds of sit-ins; they were being processed at the 7th Precinct stationhouse and were expected to be issued desk tickets, according to NYPD Chief of Patrol Terence Monahan. 

At 6 p.m. more than 2,000 people had gathered for an evening protest at Foley Square followed by a march over Brooklyn Bridge. By 7 p.m. 12 had been arrested for sitting in the street, including New York council member Ydanis Rodriguez.

"Just been arrested fighting for our undocumented brothers and sisters near Foley Sq.," he tweeted. "We stand united behind them and their quest for justice."

Some of the arrested during the day are DACA recipients. The NYPD says the protesters arrested outside Trump Tower won't have to be fingerprinted if they provide their information willingly -- no fingerprints means no arrest information transmitted to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

The Mayor's Office confirmed those arrested at Brooklyn Bridge who cooperate with police will be ticketed and released. No fingerprinting would be done, to avoid alerting state or federal government to those arrested who are undocumented.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, instituted by President Obama, offered protections for young immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children. Sessions says Congress will be given six months to come up with a legislative solution to protect the nearly 800,000 young immigrants currently protected under DACA. 

Sarai Bravo, a 24-year-old immigrant from Mexico, was among the people who marched to Trump Tower. She is the only one in her family who is not documented; her parents and her younger sister were granted permanent status last year.

"We're going to have to figure out ways of how we're going to continue supporting ourselves, and continuing to give back to the economy of this country," said Bravo, of Washington Heights. "That's the only thing we want to do, we're Americans, we went to college, gotten great jobs, and all we want to do is contribute back to this country we call home."

Basi Alonso, a DACA recipient who was arrested in the protests, said, "We are a part of this country's fabric. I have been here my entire life. I've been paying my taxes, I went to school here. My parents work here." 

Ahead of the announcement Tuesday, hundreds of people boarded buses in Jackson Heights, Queens; in Elizabeth, New Jersey; and other communities in the tri-state, to rally in Washington.

"It is a little frightening, because we want to continue, we want to study more," said a young woman named Lizbeth Huitzil as she prepared to board a bus from Queens. "We want to actually become someone in this life, just like everyone has had the chance." 

Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to assist DACA recipients with legal services and know-your-rights forums, and said on Twitter that his office is planning a DACA Day of Action. The Hispanic Federation says it is also hosting a "Know Your Rights" session for DACA recipients at Las Americas Conference Center at 55 Exchange Place Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Elsewhere, elected officials, leaders and advocacy groups issued statements condemning the decision to end DACA. 

“President Trump’s action today is an affront to who we are as Americans. He is needlessly targeting children who know no other country as home than America," said U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. "Congress must lead where the President won't and pass the DREAM Act. America does not merely tolerate immigration – we thrive on it, and we are better than needlessly targeting hardworking young adults to score crass partisan points.”

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker said, "Congress can and should circumvent this misguided decision by passing legislation that will protect the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers who are now facing deportation. Congress must also act to finally fix our broken immigration system and pass comprehensive immigration reform that offers a pathway to citizenship for millions of Americans living in the shadows, keeps families together, and lives up to our highest ideals and values."

"Closing the doors on DACA will have profound and devastating impacts on nearly 800,000 DACA recipients and their families, and a measurable consequence on communities around the nation as well as America’s standing and influence around the world," said Rep. Adriano Espaillat.

"DACA should not be weaponized as a list to deport and divide families. DACA should not be used to deprive students of educational opportunities that benefit us all, as a community, down the road when they make great contributions to our nation, using the tools they learned here, in our great country," Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said. 

"While this White House continues to make clear that it is focused on punitive measures to limit the potential of our country, the New York City Council will continue to use every resource in our power to stand up for DREAMers, their families, and the American dream," Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Immigration Chair Council Member Carlos Menchaca said in a joint statement. 

Meanwhile, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which calls itself the country's largest immigration reform group, supported Trump's decision to end DACA. 

"The winding down period announced today will not only give DACA recipients time to get their affairs in order, but also gives Congress a unique opportunity to reengage in the immigration debate," said FAIR President Dan Stein.

"President Trump has indicated that he is willing to forge a long-term solution for real immigration reform, but it takes two sides to make a deal. The American public is watching," said Stein. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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