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Spokane demonstrators celebrate Supreme Court’s DACA decision, call for more immigrant protections

UPDATED: Mon., June 29, 2020

Celeste Bravo holds a candle during a demonstration in support of the immigration program known as DACA on Monday, June 29, 2020, in downtown Spokane.  (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Celeste Bravo holds a candle during a demonstration in support of the immigration program known as DACA on Monday, June 29, 2020, in downtown Spokane. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Several dozen people gathered near Spokane City Hall on Monday evening to rally support for the immigration program known as DACA, which got a reprieve earlier this month when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Trump administration’s decision to end it on procedural grounds.

President Barack Obama created DACA, which stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, by executive order in 2012. It has allowed hundreds of thousands of undocumented people who were taken into the United States as children to work and attend school in the country.

President Donald Trump and his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, announced they were repealing the program in 2017, but the high court, in a recent 5-4 opinion, said the Trump administration tried to end the program too quickly and without showing adequate reason.

Monday’s small demonstration in Spokane was organized by leaders of Planned Parenthood’s Latino outreach program known as Raiz.

Norma Heredia, a Raiz volunteer, said DACA’s uncertain future is a reminder that Congress holds the power to enact a more permanent amnesty program for young immigrants known as Dreamers.

“There is still a lot of organizing to be done, because we have always known that DACA was never intended to be the long-term status solution,” Heredia said. “DACA exists because Congress failed to do its job. Only Congress can create a path to legal permanent residents and naturalization for all undocumented communities.”

One DACA recipient, Alexis Gallegos, spoke during Monday’s gathering. The 22-year-old, who grew up in Ephrata, said his family moved to the United States from Mexico in the early 2000s, when he was about 5 years old. He said the program has opened many doors for him, including admission to a social work program at Eastern Washington University.

Gallegos said it’s distressing that many Americans view undocumented immigrants – including DACA recipients like himself, who have spent most of their lives in the United States – with suspicion or worse.

“We’re just trying to do our best to give back to our parents and our community, who have given us their all,” he said.

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