COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A program that temporarily shields hundreds of thousands of young people from deportation was scheduled to end Monday but court orders have forced the Trump administration to keep issuing renewals. That removed some of the urgency of a hard deadline, but advocates weren't letting up in their efforts to get permanent protection.
In September, Trump said he was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program but gave Congress six months to develop a legislative fix. Those whose permits expired by March 5 had one month to apply for renewal.
President Barack Obama introduced DACA in June 2012 by executive action, giving hundreds of thousands of people who came to the country illegally as children two-year, renewable permits to live and work. To qualify, they needed to have arrived before their 16th birthday, been under 31 in June 2012, completed high school or served in the military, and have clean criminal records.
Rallies were held across the country in support of "dreamers," the name given to those who would have qualified under the DREAM Act. They are young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children who have only temporary protection to stay here.
One such rally was held in Colorado Springs Monday at Acacia Park. Those rallying marched through downtown, many of them saying they want answers from Colorado lawmakers about why they couldn't reach a deal.
"Trump did give Congress six months," said Monica Perez, lead organizer of the Springs Dream Team. "And in those six months, they didn't do anything. About, like, 22,000 DACA recipients lost status."
More than two dozen people marched from Sen. Michael Bennet's office to Sen. Cory Gardner's office.
"The pilgrims didn't have papers when they came today," stated Sabrina Baneles, a protester in the rally. "They [pilgrims] have visas? I don't think so."
"We need a permanent solution for undocumeted youth right away. Like, my community needs to stop living in fear," Perez said.
In addition to the rally downtown, dozens of students walked out of their classes at Mitchell High School on Monday. They gathered at the flag pole before walking off campus to the corner, then back to class.
Back at Acacia Park, a message shared by everyone who participated in these demonstrations across the country:
"Regardless of where you're from, we are all brothers and sisters," one protester told 11 News.
DACA advocates have been using Monday's deadline to intensify pressure on the White House and Congress for permanent protection. The ACLU said Sunday that it launched "multiple six-figure advertising buys" with United We Dream and MoveOn.org, focusing on Trump.