NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Several hundred protesters marched along West End Avenue in Nashville late Tuesday afternoon to denounce President’s Trump decision to end DACA.
“Up, up with liberation. Down, down with deportation,” chanted the marchers, as similar protests took place across the country.
Meanwhile, Trump supporters who want tougher immigration enforcement and adherence to the Constitution praised the president for following through on a campaign promise.
The Trump administration announced early Tuesday that it would phase out DACA, which offers young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children and meet certain criteria the opportunity to obtain temporary permission to live and work in the U.S. Many recipients are now young adults.
Former President Obama started the program in 2012 through an executive order, which critics called an unconstitutional exercise of power by the executive branch. Now it will be left up to Congress to decide what to do with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA recipients, known as Dreamers, will begin losing their permits in March unless Congress acts. Immigration activists are already lobbying Congress to save the program.
Should Congress pass legislation to restore the DACA program before it ends six months from now, President Trump could exercise his veto power, which would take a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate to override.
Tuesday’s protest march in Nashville was organized by the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) and JUMP (Jóvenes Unidos por un Mejor Presente, or Youth United for a Better Present). The march started at Centennial Park and proceeded along West End Avenue to the offices of Tennessee’s Republican senators, Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander. Many cars along the busy road honked their horns and some drivers gave the marchers a thumbs-up.
“No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA,” another chant demanded.
Chants and emotional, teary speeches were conducted in both English and Spanish. Signs carried by protesters read “Resist White Supremacy, Trump’s Hate,” “No Human Is Illegal,” “Being Pro Life = Defending DACA” and “Borders Are Imaginary Lines.” Other signs read “We Are #HereToStay.”
Educators were a notable presence at the protest, some with signs reading “Maestras Para DACA,” meaning “Teachers for DACA.”
Metro Nashville Public Schools released a statement Tuesday slamming Trump’s decision.
“The intended rescission of DACA denies our schools and communities many ambitious, intelligent, and highly-motivated students, parents, teachers and staff and will result in fear and uncertainty for many of the families and students we serve,” the statement said. “Plainly stated, the result of the president’s announced ending to DACA is unacceptable. We call on Congress to enact the Dream Act or otherwise codify DACA with legislation immediately.”
Sen. Corker released a statement saying, “The president is right to want this issue to be resolved legislatively. Hopefully, while addressing it, we also will deal with a myriad of other issues that need to be corrected with our broken immigration system, including enhancing enforcement and security measures.”
There are nearly 800,000 DACA recipients nationwide and more than 8,300 in Tennessee.