Denver mayor Michael B. Hancock and Colorado lawmakers joined immigrant rights advocates Nov. 8 for a rally in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ahead of the policy’s big day in court next week.
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Nov. 12 to decide whether the Trump administration’s move to end the Obama-era policy was lawful. DACA was introduced in 2012 to grant protections to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children. Trump acted to rescind those protections in 2017, but federal courts have blocked that decision.
“We’re going to win at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, because … we’re on the right side of the law, and we’re on the right side of humanity,” said Hancock at the rally in front of the Denver City and County Building on Friday.
Nearly 700,000 people, known as DREAMers, currently benefit from the policy, including 15,500 in Colorado. Two of them, entrepreneur Alejandro Flores and activist Gladis Ibarra, spoke at the gathering.
“As a DACA recipient and a small business owner, I want to make it clear that DREAMers are capable people who, day by day, contribute to the social, economic and cultural growth of the United States,” said Flores, adding that about 91% of DACA recipients have a job and 5% have started businesses, compared to 3.1% of the general population.
DACA provides a two-year, renewable reprieve from the threat of deportation and allows recipients to obtain work permits in the U.S., protections that could disappear if the Supreme Court says the administration’s decision to roll back the program is legal.
“This administration wants us to lose our employment — the way in which many of us provide for our families, pay for our studies, and support the economy of this place we call home,” said Ibarra. She asked the lawmakers present to continue the fight for a more comprehensive immigration law that “doesn’t leave anyone behind, especially the original dreamers, our parents.”
U.S. Representatives Diana DeGette and Jason Crow, Colorado State Representative Leslie Herod and Denver City Attorney Kristen Bronson also spoke at the event organized by the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network and Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition.
The city’s support for DREAMers isn’t just lip service, according to Bronson. “We have put our money where our mouth is in Denver,” she said. An August 2017 executive order signed by Hancock established the Denver Immigrant Legal Services Fund to fund organizations that provide pro bono or low-cost legal services to undocumented immigrants.
“Immigrants are 10 times more likely to stay in the country if they have a lawyer fighting with them, fighting for them,” Bronson said. The fund has helped hundreds of immigrants in court, hired a team of attorneys and held “know your rights” workshops across the city, she said.