Shortly after the Trump administration's announced a plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, local DACA recipients, education activists, leaders with immigration nonprofits, and state, county, and city government officials gathered for an emergency rally at El Centro de la Raza yesterday afternoon to call on Congress to pass bipartisan immigration legislation. Speakers led chants of "No justice, no peace! No DACA? No peace!" and "Sí se puede!" as ash from the Central Washington wildfires rained down on the crowd.
At the podium, Gonzaga University graduate and DACA recipient Paúl Quiñonez told the crowd that he came to the U.S. when he was seven to be reunited with his father. Now with degrees in political science and economics, Quiñonez said the United States is missing an economic opportunity by upending DACA. However, he added, that shouldn't be a motivating factor for citizens to care about the lives of undocumented children.
"Neither myself nor the 800,000 DACA recipients around the country should have to constantly justify their existence in this nation and the contributions we have made to it," said Quiñonez, also a member of the Washington Dream Coalition. "Our community won't be pushed back into the shadows."
Upon hearing the news today, he felt "numb, although we've been preparing for it for awhile," he told The Stranger after the rally.
What made Quiñonez most angry was that the president announced the end of DACA via Twitter before passing the buck to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has long advocated to end the program protecting undocumented children.
"To see that [Trump] wasn't even courageous enough to face us, to show his face, it seemed to me that he was trying to deflect his responsibility," he said. "To see that [Sessions] was given that satisfaction was really infuriating to me."
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who vowed to sue Trump if he ended DACA, called today's announcement "as dark as it gets."
"As cruel and as inhumane as this action is, there's one other problem with it: I think it's illegal," he told a cheering crowd. "My office has filed 14 different lawsuits against this administration so far and, it's not like I'm keeping score or anything, but so far we're 4-0."
Ferguson did not say exactly when his office would file its lawsuit against Trump, only saying it would be "very, very soon."
"You can't tweet your way out of a problem in a federal court," Ferguson continued. "It's the rule of law that matters."
Washington State Lieutenant Attorney General Cyrus Habib and Seattle City Council Member Lorena González called on Congress to create a new DREAM Act to better serve undocumented youth across the country.
"DACA has provided [youngsters] to come out of the shadows and to continue pursuing their education and working to help provide for their families," González said.
She continued: "Today's decision meant that many Seattle families awoke to news that our federal government has once again failed them. To the undocumented youth of Seattle and your families: I say Seattle will not fail you. This city is your home and we will continue to fight for you and support you every day."