Lit­tle Rock rally backs im­mi­gra­tion fix

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - ERIC BESSON

Hun­dreds marched Satur­day in Lit­tle Rock in sup­port of federal leg­is­la­tion to pro­tect from de­por­ta­tion those people who came il­le­gally to the United States as chil­dren.

The mile­long walk be­gan at Central High School and ended on the steps of the state Capi­tol, where im­mi­grants, elected of­fi­cials and oth­ers urged a crowd of 300-plus to pres­sure the Arkansas con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion and state lead­ers into sup­port­ing the pro­posed Dream Act.

“We are not go­ing to stand with our arms crossed,” said Le­zlie Cruz, a ju­nior at Parkview High School. “We have a voice, and we will make it heard to­day.”

The demon­stra­tion was held after Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced this month it would ter­mi­nate De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals, a pro­gram cre­ated by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in 2012.

The pro­gram, fre­quently re­ferred to as DACA, has granted two-year work per­mits and de­ferred-re­moval sta­tus to people who ar­rived il­le­gally in the United States be­fore their 16th birth­days.

Trump later called on Congress to pass a leg­isla­tive fix and said Thursday he was “fairly close” to an agree­ment that could pro­tect the pro­gram’s par­tic­i­pants. How­ever, the de­tails of such a deal and its prospects of draw­ing enough Repub­li­can votes are un­clear, leav­ing many people un­sure of their sta­tus.

More than 5,100 of the nearly 800,000 pro­gram par­tic­i­pants na­tion­wide re­side in Arkansas, ac­cord­ing to federal data.

One of them, 24-year-old Luis Vazquez of Sher­wood, was able to open a Mex­i­can restau­rant, Tor­tas Mex­ico, in North Lit­tle Rock be­cause of his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the pro­gram, he said in an in­ter­view.

State Sen. Joyce El­liott, D-Lit­tle Rock; state Rep. Vi­vian Flow­ers, D-Pine Bluff; and Lit­tle Rock Vice Mayor Kathy Webb ad­dressed the crowd.

A sim­i­lar demon­stra­tion will be­gin at 11:30 a.m. to­day in Fayet­teville, said Mireya Reith, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the ad­vo­cacy group Arkansas United Com­mu­nity Coali­tion.

Demon­stra­tors chanted, “This is what Amer­ica looks like,” and other phrases Satur­day. Many car­ried ban­ners and signs with mes­sages such as “Dream­ers are Amer­ica.”

“Get in loser we’re pro­tect­ing un­doc­u­mented chil­dren” was writ­ten on the back win­dow of a red Chevro­let SUV parked near Central High.

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