Dozens of Los Banos supporters rallied with signs at Pacheco Park Thursday afternoon to stand in solidarity with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which is expiring Friday after President Donald Trump declined to renew it.
“We have friends and family who are scared,” said Los Banos resident Bernadette Dominguez, noting that many people she knows will be affected. “This is their home. It’s not fair for them to get deported when they came as children.”
The federal program, commonly referred to as DACA, allowed some individuals who came to the United States illegally as children to remain and be eligible to work in the country.
Trump announced last month that he was not going to renew the Obama-era program, claiming that it was unconstitutional and asking Congress to replace or fix the program. The decision sparked nationwide protests.
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Recipients apply for two-year renewable permits through the program. But the end of the program means about 750,000 recipients may be subject to deportation.
People lined up at Pacheco Park along Pacheco Boulevard and Seventh Street and waved signs in support of DACA.
“The goal is to let everyone know that this thing, DACA, will be gone. ... But (the support for recipients) is not ending,” said Ron Chaparro, who grew up in Los Banos and is a member of the Black Berets out of San Jose.
Los Banos resident Armando Corona said he was supporting the efforts because it was important for people who support Trump and his policies to understand that the DACA recipients, and immigrant Americans at large, aren’t bad people.
“We do very important things for this country,” Corona said. “We do the tough jobs no one wants to do.”
Chaparro noted that as the group rallied, cars kept on honking in support and children across the street in Los Banos Elementary were cheering them on.
“That’s so good to see,” Chaparro said. “They get it.”
A 31-year-old Los Banos resident and DACA recipient who declined to be named said he saw the rally while on his way home and joined. Tears streamed down his face as he explained to rally goers about his fear for his future after his DACA permit expires next year.
“I don’t know what will happen,” he said. “I could lose my job. I moved to the United States when I was 1. I could lose my home.”