DACA supporters protest cancellation at Meehan’s office
Simultaneous protests took place at 16 congressional offices in Pennsylvania
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In response to the rally, Meehan’s staff reissued the statement released on Tuesday when DACA was rescinded.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.
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...