SALT LAKE CITY -- Utahns marched to the capitol Saturday in support of "Dreamers." They said they want to keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that protected 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation.
Marchers Mauro Gusman and Sebastian Defreitas said they want politicians to stop thinking with their heads and start thinking with their hearts.
“I think they add everything," Gusman said of immigrants. "I think from them we have our future.”
On Friday, Mayor Jackie Biskupski issued a proclamation declaring September 15-24 as "Welcoming Week in Salt Lake City."
The week is full of events aimed at recognizing immigrants' contributions in the United States. Saturday's march was one of these events.
“America was founded by immigrants," Defreitas said. "I mean everybody’s – or most people’s – grandparents or their grandparents have been immigrants. So, you know, changing that type of culture is against everything we believe."
The Trump Administration announced the end of the DACA program September 5th. On September 13th, Democratic leaders Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Nancy Pelosi announced that a meeting with President Trump resulted in a deal to replace DACA. The next day, Trump refuted those claims.
“Being an undocumented person is very difficult because often times we are not validated for our existence," said Ciriac Alvarez, who came to Utah when she was five years old.
Seventeen years later, she has a degree from the University of Utah and works for a community organization. She said she will continue to fight to keep DACA alive.
“Benefiting from the DACA program allowed me to come out of the shadows, and, yes, I’m worried that something may not happen; however, my life has always been full of uncertainty so I’m going to continue fighting for immigration reform because DACA was never our end goal," she said.
She added DACA is simply a work permit, but it helps changes lives.
“Someone you know, someone you love, someone you trust, someone that might create the cure for cancer one day could be a dreamer," Defreitas said.
Trump previously stated Congress has six months to come up with a legislative solution to extend the protections former President Barack Obama had granted by Executive Order. Trump has also mentioned revisiting the issue if Congress does not act in time, but nothing is set in stone.