KTVU/AP - Immigrant rights activists across the nation, including in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, took to the streets on Tuesday, moments after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the DACA program would be “rescinded,” calling the administration's actions "xenophobic."
News conferences and rallies were held in the Bay Area’s largest three cities, where activists and faith groups spoke to “condemn the president's cruel and unjust decision” to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program," organizers said in a statement.
Speaking at one of those conferences, Santa Clara County Supervisor President Dave Cortese said that Trump's actions were "cowardly and callous," and Silicon Valley leaders and the county are standing behind the Dreamers, whom he referenced as "American young people." Cortese said he would look at all options, including legal ones, to see what he could do to help young, undocumented immigrants. Santa Clara County, along with San Francisco, has so far been successful in declaring the Trump administration's de-funding of sanctuary cities unconstitutional.
"The fear will only make us stronger," said Mitzia Martinez, a DACA recipient who has been studying at UC Berkeley.
Earlier, at a conference in Washington, D.C., Sessions explained that this move – directed by President Donald Trump – is the “compassionate” thing to do and that the DACA program as it currently exists in an "unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch.".
Sessions announced that the 800,000 young people currently shielded from deportation and allowed to work legally under the program will begin losing their protection March 6 unless Congress acts before then. In the meantime, the administration will continue to renew two-year work permits as they expire but will stop accepting new applications for the program, which will not be fully phased out until March 2020.
California is home to about 223,000 of the Dreamers.
After the announcement, House Speaker Paul Ryan said former President Barack Obama's existing policy for immigrants brought to the country as children was a "clear abuse of executive authority" and now it's incumbent upon Congress to act.
In a statement Tuesday, the Wisconsin Republican said he hopes that the House and Senate - with the president's leadership - will find consensus on a permanent legislative solution to the issue. He says it is important to ensure that those who have done nothing wrong can still contribute "as a valued party of this great country."
But House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called Trump's decision "a deeply shameful act of political cowardice."
Pelosi also said in a statement that the widely expected announcement on Tuesday was a "despicable assault on innocent young people in communities across America."
The Bay Area activists, whom she represents, including FREE SF, SFILEN and Bay Resistance, agreed.
In a statement, the groups said that the termination of DACA is the “latest in a series of xenophobic attacks from a White House entangled with white supremacy and determined to criminalize immigrants and communities of color.”
The groups argue that the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants nationwide are a “vital and inseparable part of our communities.”
Actions planned later today by local immigrant rights groups include a 5 p.m. rally at the Federal Building on Seventh Street in San Francisco. Santa Clara County officials held a news conference earlier this morning and Lee, San Francisco's mayor, is planning one for this afternoon.