Utah immigrants vow to fight repeal of DACA program

FILE - Juliana Torres, 16, center, of Baltimore, rallies in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, outside of the White House, in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. President Donald Trump's administration will "wind down" a program protecting hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children, Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared Tuesday, calling the Obama administration's program "an unconstitutional exercise of authority." (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The fears Nidia Romero endured growing up in the U.S. after her parents brought her illegally from Mexico as a toddler came flooding back Tuesday when she learned that President Donald Trump plans to phase out a program shielding her and other young immigrants from being deported.

Romero pledged to fight back as she spoke at a rally with about 50 other people on the steps of the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City. They held signs that said, “Dreamers make America great,” ”Migration is a human right,” and “Stop tearing families apart.”

Becoming part of President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, in 2012 allowed Romero to live peacefully, obtain a work permit and get a government job.

“I never thought I would have to hide again or live in fear,” Romero said. “But that is not going to happen this time. We will not be silenced. We will not live in fear again. It is our time to fight back.”

Romero is one of about 10,000 Utah beneficiaries of the program, according to the ACLU of Utah.

John Mejia, the group’s legal director, said Trump’s decision to end DACA places the lives of thousands of young immigrations into uncertainty and will cause chaos into workplaces and communities across the country.

He criticized President Trump for pardoning former sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona — found by a federal judge to have racially profiled Latinos with his immigration raids — while putting “hard-working” immigrants into “legal limbo.”

Utah’s two Republican U.S. senators gave the Trump administration mixed reviews.

Sen. Orrin Hatch said he urged President Trump last week not to rescind the program.

“I believe it puts Dreamers, who were brought here as children through no fault of their own, in an extremely difficult position,” Hatch said in a statement.

He said he agrees with Trump that tougher immigration laws are needed but said Congress must come up with a plan that mixes border security with opportunities for high-skilled immigrants and an unspecified “path forward” for young immigrants in the program.

Sen. Mike Lee applauded the move to peel back what he considered “an illegal abuse of executive power” by former President Barack Obama, who put DACA in place. Lee said Congress must now find a balance between “compassion and deterring future illegal immigration.”

Romero said she’s angry with Trump.

“He lied to us. He said that he saw a bright future and he loved us and that he was going to treat us with an open heart,” Romero said. “It’s very disappointing that after all these things were given to us, they are now being taken away from us.”

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