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Charlotte Area News

NC Immigrant Groups Urge Trump To Keep DACA In Place

day_wo_immigrants.jpg
Tom Bullock
/
WFAE
Homemade signs displayed at Charlotte's "Day Without Immigrants" march and protest in Feb. 2017

Immigrant groups in North Carolina are mobilizing amid reports that President Donald Trump may end the DACA program, while giving Congress six months to come up with a possible replacement.

Since its inception in 2012, DACA has awarded some 800,000 recipients, including 27,000 in North Carolina, a renewable, two-year work permit and a reprieve from deportation proceedings. The program is applicable to immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally before they were 16 years old and were 30 or younger as of June 2012.

The news spurred one advocacy group in Greensboro to plan a protest and march Monday evening at the city's government plaza. Organizers were calling on participants to contact their congressional representatives and implore them to retain the DACA program.

In Charlotte, Jose Hernandez-Paris, the executive director of the Latin American Coalition, called any potential move toward dismantling the DACA program "extremely concerning."

"There will be students wondering why their teachers can't come to school anymore, patients wondering why their favorite nurse has gone," he said, "Some extremely contributing and valuable members of our community are going to find themselves outside of that community."

Hernandez-Paris says the Latin American Coalition has planned a press conference for Tuesday following Trump's announcement. He says if the president moves to end the program, his organization is preparing to team up with national organizations to lobby Congress in an effort to salvage the program. He adds that it's becoming increasingly hard to rally local immigrants because so many have grown fearful over the last several months.

Meanwhile North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican, says he intends to introduce what he calls a conservative solution that provides a "fair but rigorous" path to citizenship for so-called dreamers. It would be a companion bill to one introduced in the U.S. House.

The bill would grant high school graduates without a serious criminal record and who don't rely on government assistance conditional immigration status for five years. They could eventually apply for citizenship, if over that time they stay employed or receive a higher education degree. Those who enlist in the military could apply for naturalization right away.