Chicago DACA supporters demonstrate in front of a federal courthouse in New Orleans

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ByWill Jones via WLS logo
Thursday, July 7, 2022
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Demonstrators from around the country gathered in front of the Louisiana court house to show their support for DACA. Some came from the HANA Center in Chicago.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Hundreds of thousands of immigrants who rely on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are keeping a close watch on a case before a federal appeals court in New Orleans.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Wednesday on the legality of the Obama era program known as DACA.

Demonstrators from around the country gathered in front of the courthouse to show their support for DACA. Some came from the HANA Center in Chicago.

"We've been fighting for this program since day one," said HANA Center Community Organizer Glo Choi. "Immigrant youth have fought for it to even exist in the first place."

Some DACA recipients listened to oral arguments from inside the courtroom.

"It was emotional. It was also really surreal because they were talking about DACA recipients as if we weren't sitting in the room," said HANA Center Housing Assistance Program Coordinator Jerelly Marchán-Aguirre.

DACA was established by the Obama Administration 10 years ago. It was put in place to protect some immigrants from deportation who came to the U.S. as children. There are more than 6-hundred thousand people enrolled in the program, according to U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services.

"It allows us to have just basic things, that everyone gets to have, just because they were born here. This includes a driver's license, the ability to work, which means the ability to get money, pay for school, pay bills, essentially just live," Marchán-Aguirre said.

Immigration advocates argue DACA was only meant to be a temporary solution.

"DACA is not enough and that's been our rallying call for our movement for a long time," Choi said.

They continue to call on Congress to provide a pathway to citizenship for people who are undocumented.

"I started crying as soon as I got inside the courthouse. I started crying when I came out of it; simply because our livelihoods are on the line, again. We should have had a permanent solution," Marchán-Aguirre said.