If the legislation needed to avoid a government shutdown doesn't include a DACA provision, there will be no incentive for the Republican majority to ever pass a standalone solution for almost one million DACA recipients who could face deportation when the program ends in March, Frank Sharry, executive director for immigrant advocacy group America's Voice, told reporters during a press call Thursday.
At issue are protections for immigrants known as DREAMers - the roughly 700,000 people who are in the US illegally and were brought to the country as children.
An announcement for the vigil says people will pray for protection of those affected and for lawmakers to pass a bill that would protect the so-called "Dreamers" and their families. In addition, about 2,000 people converged on nation's Capitol Wednesday for a rally demanding a DACA solution.
The Trump administration announced in September that it would begin phasing out DACA, the Obama-era policy that offered temporary work authorization and protection from deportation to young immigrants who have lived in the U.S. illegally since childhood. Trump has given Congress a March deadline for crafting a permanent fix for the program. They are looking at shutting down.
"There's a growing chorus with a simple message for Congress - step up and fix our broken immigration system, starting with a fix for Dreamers", NAE President John Feinblatt told Illinois Business Daily. "Ending the DACA program is not only devastating for thousands of young Pennsylvanians, who know this country as their only home, but will have devastating consequences for the economy". Deporting them would cause "the disruption of our businesses and our way of life", he said.
Over the last number of months there has been a deluge of interest in a small but important immigration program called DACA.
Trump's action, taken in September, doesn't kick in until next March, and there have been desultory negotiations over a reinstatement of DACA in exchange for varying "border security" measures Republicans want, up to and including Trump's highly symbolic border wall (a nonstarter for Democrats). Her parents gave up careers in Mexico and now work at menial, low-wage jobs, she said.
"I'm your neighbor. I'm your friend", said community organizer Alfredo Pacheco. This proposal, as I have told them personally, can not be considered a good faith effort to provide protection for the Dreamers, including those who were enrolled in DACA.
But Democrats facing reelection next year in states that voted for Trump don't want to risk a shutdown over the issue.
Evelyn Valdez-Ward is a PhD student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Irvine, and a DACA recipient. Pennsylvania needs more immigrants, not fewer, they argued, given the state's stagnant population growth and the difficulties some employers encounter in finding workers.