More than two dozen protesters were arrested outside Trump Tower Tuesday after the Trump administration dismantled the Obama-era DACA program.
President Barack Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in June 2012 to protect certain undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as minors from deportation. Those minors are known as “Dreamers.”
“The effect of this unilateral executive amnesty, among other things, contributed to a surge of minors at the southern border with humanitarian consequences,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “It denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs.”
An “orderly wind down” of the DACA program is slated to begin March 5, officials said, and the approximately 800,000 current recipients will not be affected immediately.
In a statement after Sessions announced the DACA rollback, President Donald Trump said, “I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents. But we must also recognize that we are a nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.
“Only by the reliable enforcement of immigration law can we produce safe communities, a robust middle class and economic fairness for all Americans,” Trump added.
Protests around the country ensued, from demonstrators shutting down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., and students in Denver walking out of classes to hundreds gathering outside Trump Tower in New York.
About two dozen people were arrested after sit-ins blocked traffic outside the luxury high-rise in Midtown, NBC4 reported. Those who cooperate with officers will be ticketed and released without fingerprinting, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s press secretary Eric Phillips said in a tweet.
Some news: Those cooperating w/ officers will only be ticketed & released, without fingerprinting. No prints/alerts to the State or Feds. https://t.co/kKqUT4wqOs
— Eric Phillips (@EricFPhillips) September 5, 2017
City immigrants and DACA supporters were not the only ones who were outraged by the program’s impending end.
“Rescinding DACA is just feeding the beast of bigotry red meat. That’s all this is about,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted.
Rescinding #DACA is just feeding the beast of bigotry red meat.
That’s all this is about.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) September 5, 2017
An earlier tweet from the governor said that the state will not “demonize diversity” or “stand by as 42,000 NYers are deported and said the state would sue if Trump rescinded the program.
We will not stand by as the lives of 42,000 New York Dreamers are destroyed. #DACA pic.twitter.com/EuB4DTTK6C
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) September 5, 2017
Cuomo also urged New Yorkers to sign a petition at governor.ny.gov telling Congress to pass the DREAM Act, which was introduced in 2001 to qualify immigrant minors for residency. It has failed to pass several reintroductions since.
“New Yorkers know that we are a nation of immigrants,” Cuomo said. “If there is a move to deport immigrants, then I say start with me. I come from a family of immigrants who came to this country without jobs, without money, without resources — seeking only the promise of America embodied by the Lady of the Harbor.”
In a tweet, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “We warned you not to threaten our neighbors. New York City will fight to defend our Dreamers.”
We warned you not to threaten our neighbors, @realDonaldTrump. New York City will fight to defend our Dreamers.
— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) September 5, 2017
To the Dreamers of New York City:
We stand with you. We will fight for you.
In solidarity, New York City pic.twitter.com/fhOYD3no7x
— NYC Mayor’s Office (@NYCMayorsOffice) September 5, 2017
In a statement, City Comptroller Scott Stringer said, “It’s hard to imagine the fear tens of thousands of New Yorkers, and hundreds of thousands of Americans are feeling today as their White House targets them. But every Dreamer should know that we are prepared to fight. I will not give up — and New York City won’t give up.”
State Sen. Jose Peralta called the move “brutal and incomprehensible. It is disheartening to see how this president, son and grandson of immigrants, just killed the hopes and dreams of hundreds of thousands of Dreamers. The first lady is an immigrant herself, so the action taken by President Trump is appalling.”
Peralta also called the move “economic suicide,” citing a Center for American Progress study that said DACA beneficiaries would contribute $460.3 billion to the U.S. GDP over the next 10 years.
“Let’s not forget that Dreamers have already been properly vetted through the system and have met the rigorous requirements placed on them, not only to initially qualify but to renew the program as well,” Peralta added. “Not only that, Dreamers are our everyday neighbors and future doctors, engineers, teachers, architects that will move this country forward and build on the foundation of those who came before them.”
Former President Obama also addressed the DACA pullback, saying in a statement posted to Facebook that “this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people — and who we want to be,” he wrote. “It’s up to members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel.”