Hundreds of people rallied outside the Texas attorney general’s office Tuesday as the United States Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could decide the fate of young undocumented people, often referred to as “Dreamers.”
The court heard a class action suit Tuesday to decide whether President Donald Trump’s repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy is constitutional. In 2012, the Obama Administration instituted DACA, which grants temporary protection from deportation to more than 700,000 young adults.
In August, Attorney General Ken Paxton filed amicus briefs with 12 other states in favor of the Trump administration’s decision to rescind DACA. The coalition argued that the policy was unconstitutionally instituted and purposefully bypassed elected representatives.
“The president’s duty is to ensure that the law is faithfully executed, not to rewrite laws with which he disagrees,” Paxton said in a statement Tuesday. “We hope the Supreme Court will recognize the necessity of the Trump administration’s decision to rescind this unlawful program.”
Ric Galvan, a student organizer with Texas Rising, said he wants students to vote Paxton and legislators with similar stances out of office. Texas Rising members gathered with labor union Texas AFL-CIO, immigration activist group United We Dream and other organizations and chanted phrases such as “Deport me no way! Undocumented and here to stay!”
“This our government,” history sophomore Galvan said. “We can see the Capitol from the tower and know that the people in that building are pushing for the horrible policies like what Paxton is doing. These are things that we can change here in our state and local communities.”
Hundreds of people also gathered at similar protests around the country, including in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Building. Texas is behind California with the second largest population of DACA recipients with an estimated 121,000 recipients in 2017, according to the Pew Research Center.
Gerardo Ruiz-Tenorio, management information systems sophomore, said he was born in Texas and is a citizen, but his older sister is a DACA recipient. He said he participated in the protest for her and his family.
“My parents crossed over (the border) with her in hand,” Ruiz-Tenorio said. “They are not less than someone who has papers. We need to get the word out that my family is here and people like us are here, and we will stand together to make it like everybody else.”
Jamie Turcios-Villalta, health and society senior, attended the protest and said although she is graduating in May, she had to change her future plans in case she loses her DACA status.
“I have not applied to grad school yet because if this program were to be terminated, I would not be able to practice what I want to do,” Turcios-Villalta said. “My college experience has always been different. I had to balance these things, and I didn’t feel welcomed. Everything is continuing to get more complicated, but I will move forward.”