Audio of the Merced City Council meeting usually echoes through City Hall.
But on Tuesday, chants in support of the federal Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program and against President Donald Trump dominated as a rally marched from 16th Street to City Hall.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday morning that there will be an unspecified "wind down period" to DACA, meaning to give Congress time to come up with a replacement to the President Barack Obama-era program.
The announcement aligns with Trump's promise to end at least parts of DACA.
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"With this being gone now, it's frightening to know that we might not be able to have everything we hoped and dreamed for," said Blanca Ojeda, a former Merced College student who is a recipient of the program.
The rally, organized by members of the Merced chapter of the National Brown Berets, gathered at M Street and 16th Street Tuesday evening with signs and slogans decrying Trump's decision to phase out the program.
As the group stood at the northwest corner of the intersection, dozens joined until the crowd of supporters swelled to more than 120 people. They marched into Merced City Hall and chanted loud enough outside the council chambers to make their presence felt to city council members conducting a meeting.
"We want them to know we care about the undocumented community here," said organizer Jesse Ornelas, noting that City Council did not choose to designate Merced as a "sanctuary city," which would limit the city's cooperation with federal authorities seeking to deport or enforce immigration laws.
Trump's decision is expected to affect more than 750,000 young people who obtained work permits through DACA for either job or school purposes.
The two-year permits were renewable. But once a DREAMer's permit expires, he or she is eligible for deportation.
Ojeda, Hub Administration Assistant for Building Healthy Communities Merced, said her DACA permit was recently renewed. But for her and many college students and young professionals, hope in a reprieve from Trump's immigration policies is waning.
"At this point I don't feel like I can trust anything the new administration says," Ojeda said.
On Tuesday, several local leaders committed their support for DACA.
Merced County District 1 Supervisor Rodrigo Espinoza encouraged the crowd at City Hall to keep the pressure on elected officials at all levels.
"We have to make a change because this county, this city, does not want to change," Espinoza said. "So we have to push, push, push."