Thirty activists headed to the nation's capital on Tuesday to defend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Half a dozen rallies across the state joined even more across the country to voice their opposition to the president's termination of DACA.
One of those rallies happened at Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic.
"This is our home, I can't say otherwise. I grew up here, made friends here, went to school here; all my memories are here," said Vania Galicia, a freshman at ECSU.
DACA is a program that protects young immigrants from deportation and is being dismantled by President Donald Trump, as was announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday.
Sessions announced the end to the President Obama-era program, which will happen in the coming months.
Soon after, Connecticut officials and lawmakers began releasing statements about it.
Rep. Rosa Delauro sought to set the record straight about the program.
“DACA is not a free ride, despite the heated rhetoric and misinformation surrounding this issue,” DeLauro said. “There are many requirements to qualify, such as entering the U.S. before age 16, continuously living in the U.S. since 2007, not being convicted of felonies or significant misdemeanors, and finishing high school or serving in our armed forces. Dreamers have followed the rules, gone through the entire application process, and been approved to stay in our nation. We should not betray them by threatening their ability to learn, work, and live in this country."Rep. Elizabeth Esty also spoke out.
“The people that President Trump just turned his back on are hardworking young Americans who contribute to our economy, obey our laws, and give back to their communities," Esty said. "In many cases, they know no other country. For our government to invite these young people to come out of the shadows with the promise of protection only to rip that protection away for political expediency is un-American and indefensibly cruel."
Sen. Chris Murphy called it cruel and pointless.
"Dreamers are Americans – they grew up here, went to school here, work here," he said. "Their entire lives are here. But this won’t just disrupt their lives, it will also hurt our economy and the local communities that they are an integral part of. I’ve met so many impressive young Dreamers. I want them to know that I’ll keep fighting to keep their families together, and urge them to get in touch with my office if they need help.”
Gov. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman also expressed their disagreement with the decision.
“President Trump’s wrong-minded decision to turn back the clock on DACA is completely nonsensical,” Malloy said. “Denying these youths with access to work opportunities and affordable higher education goes against the very core of who we are. The fact is, pushing these young, gifted individuals into the shadows not only diminishes their chance for a bright future, but it darkens ours, too."
Wyman condemned it.
“Dreamers throughout the nation, including those in Connecticut, are engaged in our communities, our economy, and our tax rolls," she said. "Purposefully tipping hundreds of thousands of residents into crisis is terrible policymaking, and tearing them from the only home they have ever known is just heartless."
The move also caught the attention of Connecticut's attorney general.
"I am disappointed in President Trump's actions today," said Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen. "DACA is not only lawful, it is smart and compassionate public policy. My office is currently in communication with our partners in Connecticut state government as well as fellow attorneys general in other states, as we review the Trump Administration's actions to determine what our response may be."
A group of Connecticut Dreamers, as they are known, left East Hartford on Tuesday to go support the program.
One of them was Jose Diaz, a Central Connecticut State University student.
"DACA has been changing lives. It's definitely changed my life. Not only mine but my family," Diaz said. "Because of it, I've actually been able to work and support my family even more. Of course, continuing to pay the taxes and contribute to the community."
The group's members said the president's decision impacts about 8,000 undocumented young immigrants in the state and 800,000 nationwide.
Under it, children who came into the country as minors were able to request a 2-year period of deferred action from deportation.
Sessions said the Trump administration will end protection from deportation for immigrants brought into the U.S. illegally as children after a 6 month delay.
He said that will allow Congress enough time to formally dismantle the program.
Connecticut lawmakers reacted to the prospect early Monday morning and denounced it.
"We've been in this fight and we know how it feels to be without DACA," Diaz said. "The more people who share their stories, the more the country is going to see that we are a lot, that we are not criminals, that we do want an opportunity."
Diaz said he hopes lawmakers act fast to come up with an alternative plan.
"To pass something that will allow us to have something permanent and have a pathway to citizenship and have the opportunity to be here without being afraid," he said.
Diaz also said he just wants to live the life so many immigrants have worked toward and dreamed of.
"We're trying to just be here peacefully, work hard just as anyone else [and] have a good life as well," he said.
Rallies in support of DACA were planned around the state on Tuesday.
A crowd gathered in New Haven on Tuesday evening, to stand in solidarity.
"I don't want to even say heartbreaking because that just doesn't do justice to how awful it makes me feel. We're expecting the worst, we're hoping for the best but always trying to get ready for the worst," said Jesus Morales Sanchez, who organized the rally in New Haven outside of the New Methodist Church.
The church has served as a place of sanctuary for Marco Reyes, so far, protecting him now for a month from deportation.
"It's very hard. I say thank you that all the people that support me because it's very hard to stay here," Reyes said.
Born in Ecuador, Reyes is going on 20 years building a life in the U.S. with his wife and three kids.
“My son has DACA so, my heart is broken right now. He's my son. I love my son. I love my children. I love my family,” Reyes said.
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