GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Several groups will rally in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo Tuesday in support of a program to protect young immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday morning that the Trump administration was rescinding President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, but giving Congress six months to come up with a legislative fix if it so chooses.
Opponents have argued the DACA program is unconstitutional and have urged President Donald Trump to follow through in his campaign promise to end it. A group of Republican state officials threatened to challenge DACA in court unless the Trump administration rescinded the program.
However, supporters say eliminating DACA will hurt the nation’s economy.
Three groups are also joining Movimiento Cosecha to hold a rally in Kalamazoo in support of DACA. That event took place Tuesday in Bronson Park.
The Kalamazoo rally followed a protest on the campus of Western Michigan University. Dozens of people gathered on campus to speak out against the president’s decision, including WMU’s President Dr. Edward Montgomery.
“This really is a program that takes students and young people who came to this country, who have grown up in this country, and says to them, ‘We have a pathway for you to have a future,’” said Montgomery.
Others at the rally said DACA was unconstitutional and see the children of illegal immigrants as just that: illegal.
“I am completely against this honestly,” said WMU student Trevor Searls. “I think DACA is in itself unconstitutional. And the fact alone that [WMU] is supporting this, they’re supporting criminals, they’re supporting something that breaks the law, and that amazes me.”
Leaders of Grand Rapids Public Schools Tuesday afternoon held a news conference in response to Trump’s DACA decision.
>>App users: Watch the GRPS news conference here.
Grand Rapids Community College Board of Trustees released a statement to support its DACA students, saying it hopes the legislature passes a resolution to help those impacted by the decision.
The district’s board of education is also expected to pass a resolution Tuesday night calling on Congress to immediately act to restore the DACA program. The proposed resolution reads as follows:
“The Grand Rapids Board of Education stands united with the National School Board Association, the American Association of School Administrators, and countless other education leaders across our nation in supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is crucially important to public education across the country, from preschool to 12th grade, impacting more than 800,000 nationwide. We believe students brought to the United States as children must be able to pursue an education without the threat of deportation, and have a pathway to fully participate in the American society as citizens. DACA also enables college graduates to work as teachers. Teachers in the United States under DACA fill a tremendous need in a talent shortage area for many school systems with a high need and percentage of English Language Learners.
“As a Board of Education, we are deeply disappointed in President Trump’s most recent action ending DACA by March 5, 2018. In light of this action and timeline, it is imperative that the United States Congress take action and pass the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act).”
The Hispanic Center of Western Michigan echoed the board’s sentiment in its statement Tuesday afternoon:
“We are disappointed by today’s Executive decision to end DACA. We remain hopeful that Congress will create legislation to support these individuals who contribute a great deal to our local community and economy. We have reached out to Senator Peters and Senator Stabenow’s offices to share our thoughts and will continue to monitor the legislative process. As an organization that serves both DACA youth and their families, we plan to continue our services and explore other potential options to provide assistance.”