Several organizations ― including UndocuBlack Network, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), and the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) ― held a press conference near the Supreme Court, protesting the “racist” comments, along with Trump’s stance on several immigration issues.
The activists also urged Congress to pass a so-called clean Dream Act before midnight on Friday, the deadline for keeping the government funded. A Dream Act would allow undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to stay in the U.S., without adding to the bill border security measures and other immigration provisions sought by Trump.
Sam Yu, Communications Coordinator, for NAKASEC told HuffPost that it was important that communities of color come together as a united front on immigration.
“These issues aren’t just Black, or AAPI, or Latinx. Because of that, we must come together and stand with all of our communities, for none of us are free until all of us are free,” he said.
The activists were joined by others, including Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and California Senate leader Kevin de León (D), in speaking out against Trump’s opposition to protections for immigrants from several nations. The administration has terminated the temporary protected status programs for people from Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Sudan.
TPS designation is typically given to countries that have conditions that would endanger nationals who return to them. But now, more than 200,000 people currently living in the U.S. have a matter of months to either leave or face deportation.
The activists called for a Dream Act that would address the plight of both these TPS holders and the almost 800,000 Dreamers who could face deportation if a replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program ― which Trump has ended ― isn’t passed before March.
“As a member of UndocuBlack Network, we understand the importance of standing up for what is right, and I am here to fight against what was said regarding my home country of Haiti,” Guerline Jozef, president of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, said at the press conference. “I represent the Haitian community, I represent the American community, and I represent the bridge between the two.”
She also said the protesters ”are here to stand on behalf of those who cannot stand for themselves and to demand that Congress pass the clean DREAM Act that includes protections for TPS holders.”
Jozef added: “Elected officials must put politics aside and look at the people affected by their political games. This is not a game, these are our lives!”
The protesters also called on Congress to keep the diversity lottery program and the family sponsorship program intact. Trump had announced in November that he was “starting the process of terminating the diversity lottery program.”
The president had blamed the lottery for the deadly truck attack in New York City that killed eight people and injured several others. The suspect, Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, used the visa lottery program to legally emigrate from Uzbekistan in 2010, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed.
Trump has also pushed for an end to “chain migration,” a term immigration restrictionists use to describe allowing immigrants to sponsor their family members to join them in the U.S. Immigration activists have long rejected the term, labeling it “dehumanizing.”
The termination of the family-based system would undoubtedly affect communities of color, with the majority of Asian immigrants coming to the U.S. through this manner, reports show.
Jayapal said at the press conference that she hoped to maintain both the diversity lottery and family-based migration system, saying “we are not going to substitute one family’s pain for another family’s gain.”
She also expressed confidence that that a clean Dream Act would pass Congress.
“We are fighting hard for something that we are going to win, and the reason we’re going to win is because of Dreamers,” she said. “Dreamers are out in the street, telling their stories every single day, and making Americans understand that [they] are, in fact, part of our country and are here to stay, not to be used as a political football.”
She stressed that Democrats would not accede to compromises sought by Trump to pass a Dream Act. “We are not going to touch the family immigration system, and we are not going to touch the diversity visa program,” she said.
Yu told HuffPost that the groups will continue protesting and putting pressure on Congress.
“We want Congress to stop playing political games with our directly impacted youth,” he said.