DACA sup­port­ers protest can­cel­la­tion at Mee­han’s of­fice

Si­mul­ta­ne­ous protests took place at 16 con­gres­sional of­fices in Penn­syl­va­nia

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - DAILY LOCAL NEWS - By Kath­leen E. Carey kcarey@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @dt­busi­ness on Twit­ter

As Penn­syl­va­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Josh Shapiro joined other state at­tor­neys gen­eral in fil­ing suit to chal­lenge Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s de­ci­sion to end DACA, the pro­gram’s sup­port­ers ral­lied in front of con­gres­sional of­fices Wed­nes­day — in­clud­ing the Spring­field, Delaware County lo­ca­tion of U.S. Rep. Pa­trick Mee­han, R-7 of Chadds Ford.

Among the 50 along Sproul Road were two Demo­cratic can­di­dates who are vy­ing to run against Mee­han next year – state Sen. Daylin Leach, D-17 of Lower Me­rion and Paul Perry of Wayne. The protest was or­ga­nized by a group called PaRe­sist; there were si­mul­ta­ne­ous demon­stra­tions at 16 con­gres­sional of­fices through­out Penn­syl­va­nia.

The De­ferred Ac­tion on Child­hood Ar­rivals pro­gram, rolled out by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion in 2012, en­ables im­mi­grants who were brought to the United States as chil­dren the right to work, go to school and pay taxes.

Ac­cord­ing to Shapiro’s of­fice, in or­der to par­tic­i­pate, th­ese im­mi­grants had to reg­is­ter, pay a $495 fee, and pass crim­i­nal back­ground checks with fin­ger­print­ing ev­ery two years. Shapiro also said they paid taxes but did not re­ceive fed­eral ben­e­fits such as wel­fare or food stamps.

It is es­ti­mated that 800,000 young peo­ple, in­clud­ing 5,889 Penn­syl­va­ni­ans, are DACA par­tic­i­pants.

Trump on Tues­day said the pro­gram will end in six months un­less Congress acts to save it.

“To me,” Leach said Wed­nes­day, “this is among the most heart­less de­ci­sions a pres­i­dent’s ever made ... This is not Amer­ica. This is some­thing out of some dic­ta­tor­ship with gu­lags.”

“The fed­eral gov­ern­ment made a prom­ise,” Shapiro said in a state­ment. “They put a pro­gram in place and asked th­ese young peo­ple who have grown up as Amer­i­cans to ap­ply and the rule of law says we can’t rip that away from them now.”

In re­sponse to the rally, Mee­han’s staff reis­sued the state­ment re­leased on Tues­day when DACA was re­scinded.

It read: “Pres­i­dent Obama over­stepped his author­ity and cir-

cumvented Congress when he is­sued his ex­ec­u­tive ac­tion on DACA. Congress writes laws and the ex­ec­u­tive branch en­forces them. Congress should ad­dress this is­sue. Th­ese young peo­ple are here through no fault of their own. They did not make a choice to vi­o­late our laws. We shouldn’t pun­ish kids for their par­ents’

choices. Congress can and should re­solve this in a fair, just and bi­par­ti­san way.”

Perry was one of two dozen peo­ple who went in­side to voice their opin­ion to Mee­han’s staff.

He said the fo­cus needed to be on the six­month win­dow to “make sure peo­ple are safe and fam­i­lies are whole in this coun­try.”

Al­though not at Mee­han’s of­fice, Va­lerie Smith, pres­i­dent of Swarth­more Col­lege, is­sued a state­ment

in sup­port of DACA.

“DACA and un­doc­u­mented stu­dents have demon­strated the same mix of tal­ent, en­thu­si­asm and cu­rios­ity as any other Swarth­more stu­dent,” she said. “Like all our stu­dents, they are val­ued mem­bers of the com­mu­nity and we stand by them.”

With the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple in sup­port of DACA at the af­ter­noon rally, one man who re­fused to be iden­ti­fied held a dif­fer­ent view.

“What are the Dreamers?” he asked. “Ir­ish? Ital­ian? What are they? Where are the signs that say, ‘Help the Ger­mans’ in­stead of DACA?”

Near him stood Bob Zig­mont of Mor­ton, hold­ing a “Keep Their Dream Alive” sign.

“My own fam­ily ex­pe­ri­ences, my mother was an im­mi­grant from Italy and they ex­pe­ri­enced some dif­fi­cul­ties in the 1930s,” he said.

Zig­mont added that

they didn’t speak the lan­guage but his fam­ily was given a chance and now his son is a nurse at Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal of Philadel­phia and his daugh­ter is a sci­ence STEM co­or­di­na­tor in Rad­nor.

“We were given the chance and now my chil­dren do public ser­vice that’s worth­while and val­ued in our so­ci­ety,” he said. “I think ev­ery­one de­serves a chance here.”

Ruth Ann David­son of Ri­d­ley Town­ship said

Dreamers should be given a path to cit­i­zen­ship.

“I feel that im­mi­grants that came here look­ing for a new life and some­times es­cap­ing war and ter­ri­ble things, they come and they work hard and they build lives and to be just thrown out, I think that’s the cru­elest thing.”

Out­side Mee­han’s build­ing, Leach said he could iden­tify with the Dreamers, hav­ing been a fos­ter kid shuf­fled from house to house.

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Lucy Oblon­sky of Ken­nett Square came to protest at U.S. Rep. Pa­trick Mee­han’s Spring­field of­fice on Wed­nes­day, voic­ing her un­hap­pi­ness over Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s de­ci­sion to end DACA — De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals. She said she wasn’t po­lit­i­cally ac­tive un­til this year.

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