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As the decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (or DACA) in March looms closer, Chicago activists are not letting their voices go unheard.


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On Tuesday, a bus left Pilsen transporting about 60 activists to Washington DC where they will meet with politicians in the hopes of protecting immigrant rights after the president’s decision to terminate the program. Particularly the group is meeting with senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin.

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights member Lawrence Benito said that “[i]n Illinois, the futures of more than 41,000 documented people and their families are up in the air, so every day that congress delays action to protect immigrants, more people are in danger of being deported.”

DACA was originally signed into policy in June 2012. Approximately 800,000 people (or “Dreamers”) are currently enrolled in the program nationwide.

Rahm Emanuel has been outspoken in his rhetoric that Chicago will remain a sanctuary city. “To all the Dreamers that are here in this room and the city of Chicago: you are welcome in the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said in September. “This is your home and you have nothing to worry about…Chicago, our schools, our neighborhoods, our city, as it relates to what President Trump said, will be a Trump-free zone.”

However, Illinois governor Bruce Rauner is on Trump’s side as he believes that “comprehensive immigration reform should be addressed through Congress, and not on a state-by-state basis.”

In addition to the human cost of such strict immigration policies, rescinding DACA makes very little sense financially, especially considering Illinoi’s budget issues. According to CNBC, the state would lose $2.2 billion GDP annually with the repeal of DACA.

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The US Justice Department has also said they would remove federal grant money from that Chicago receives if the city continues to undermine the administration.

However, a US District Court judge ruled in favor of sanctuary cities, saying that the president cannot legally use his executive power to create new conditions of Congress-approved spending. This led to Emanuel reiterating his previous points.

“Chicago will continue to stand up proudly as a welcoming city, and we will not cave to the Trump administration’s pressure because they are wrong morally, wrong factually and wrong legally,” Emanuel said.

Chicago activists head to DC to meet with senators about DACA AP Photo/Richard Vogel
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