Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Their program under attack, Dreamers fight back



Dreamers Justino Mora, Pedro Trujillo and Sean Tan (l. to r.) speak out in defense of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals at the headquarters of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.
Dreamers Justino Mora, Pedro Trujillo and Sean Tan (l. to r.) speak out in defense of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals at the headquarters of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.
Josie Huang/KPCC
Dreamers Justino Mora, Pedro Trujillo and Sean Tan (l. to r.) speak out in defense of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals at the headquarters of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.
Josie Huang/KPCC


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As the country grapples with tens of thousands of unaccompanied children crossing illegally into the U.S., there’s been a lot of finger-pointing as to what’s causing the spike. 

Republicans say lax immigration policies from the Obama administration - namely a program that defers deportation for immigrants who came here illegally as kids - have created the false impression that new arrivals will be allowed to stay. California Congressman Darrell Issa is among the Republicans circulating a letter on Capitol Hill that calls for a repeal of the program.

But participants of the program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, say Republicans are playing politics - and refuse to stand down. These young immigrants — often called Dreamers — are staging protests outside Issa’s offices and have launched a Twitter campaign against him and others. One of the hashtags wielded Tuesday was #IssaFail.

"When DACA is under attack what do we do? Stand up fight back!"

In downtown Los Angeles, 30 Dreamers chanted their defense of a program that’s allowed them work permits and driver’s licenses. Pedro Trujillo, a youth organizer with the California Dream Network, said attacks on the program have been a wake-up call.

"If we do keep quiet then it will fade away and it will not be discussed at all,” Trujillo, 25, said.

He’d like to see the deferred action program expanded to include not just Dreamers but their parents.

Since the crisis at the border erupted last month, President Obama has been trying to dispel rumors that unaccompanied children have permission to stay. But Republicans say his administration created its own problems by deferring deportations for more than 550,000 people since 2012.

"When the president made a decision he was not going to enforce immigration laws, he created a real magnet to pull in a great deal of new illegals," Issa told Fox News Radio last month.