Events in Omaha and Lincoln call for action on DACA

March 7, 2018

Roughly 100 people gathered on the windswept hillside of Memorial Park on Monday evening to show support for “Dreamers” and demand that their elected representatives do something to help them.

“This is a local issue,” said Alexis Steele, an attorney with the Immigrant Legal Center and an organizer of the event. “There are an estimated more than 4,000 in Nebraska.”

Monday was the deadline that President Donald Trump had set to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. The program lets young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children temporarily stay and get jobs. The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered the administration to continue renewing DACA permits while cases progress through the federal courts.

To mark Trump’s deadline, vigils and rallies were held across the country. In Lincoln, about 70 protesters gathered on the steps of the State Capitol on Monday evening . Those at the Lincoln rally said it was time for Congress to “quit playing games” and take action to end the uncertainty faced by DACA participants .

At Memorial Park, organizers asked attendees to contact their congressional representatives and vote in the May 15 primary and the 2018 general election.

“It’s not just up to them to act,”said Abbie Kretz, lead organizer for the Heartland Workers Center. “It also falls to us.”

The Senate has been unable to agree on several proposals aimed at helping DACA participants.

[More: As DACA deadline nears, doubt lingers over whether Congress will act ]

Organizers, who represented a variety of pro-immigrant advocacy groups, said they wanted a “clean” bill that would allow dreamers to stay in the United States.

By “clean” they meant one unencumbered by other issues, like authorizing the construction of a wall on the southern border.

The event included a handful of Dreamers who spoke of the United States as their home and how the end of DACA loomed over them.

“A lot of us are in limbo. But being united as a community, we can make a difference,” said Lidia Diaz, 22, of Omaha, who graduated in May from the College of St. Mary. Her family brought her to the U.S. from Mexico at age 6.

“I feel like this is my country. Doesn’t everyone?” she said to cheers.

World-Herald staff writer Paul Hammel contributed to this report.