About 100 people rallied in Dayton Tuesday in support of a program allowing young people brought to the country illegally as children to remain in the United States.
The protest was hastily organized after the Trump administration’s announcement it would phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA.
President Donald Trump is calling for Congress to come up with a replacement for the Obama-era DACA program within six months.
DACA currently permits nearly 800,000 people to temporarily work and study in the United States. Most are under age 19. Department of Homeland Security statistics show around 9,600 DACA recipients live in Ohio.
Protesters stood in a large circle on the sidewalk singing, chanting and waving signs at passing cars in the evening rush hour.
Protester and Englewood 18-year-old Wafaa Hamdi says she’s worried about her two older sisters getting deported back to Morocco if DACA is ended. The sisters were brought by Hamdi's parents to America when they were younger than 10 years old.
“My sisters are under the DACA program. My mother isn’t but they are trying to deport my mother, and if the DACA program is taken away, me and my brother, whom are actually U.S. citizens, will be left alone with absolutely nothing," she says.
The protest was held outside Republican 10th District Congressman Mike Turner’s downtown office and hosted by the groups Organizing For Action Montgomery/Greene County and Dayton Indivisible for All.
Turner has not yet released a statement on the decision to end the DACA program. The congressman has spoken in the past in support of immigration reform without amnesty for immigrants who entered the country illegally.
Nationwide, the top five countries of origin for the DACA-eligible population are Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Korea and Honduras, according to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute.