Dozens protest DACA decision in Des Moines

Dozens gathered in downtown Des Moines outside of Sen. Ernst and Sen. Grassley's offices to protest President Trump's decision to end DACA. (Photo: Caroline Cummings).

Dozens gathered in front of a federal building in the state capital Tuesday to protest President Trump's decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era program that protects immigrants who came to the U.S. at a young age from deportation.

Monica Reyes of DREAM Iowa was among the DACA supporters who gathered in downtown Des Moines. She is a DACA receipient.

"For the first time in my life I was able to apply for a social security number and with that social security number I was apply to apply for a driver's license here in Iowa and I was able to look for a job legally," Reyes said, recalling the moment when President Obama enacted the program in 2012.

She said DACA helped her earn a degree from the University of Northern Iowa and begin her career as a mortgage lender. She was also able to buy a home, something she said was not an option for her as an undocumented immigrant prior to DACA.

"Even though I've been contributing to this country, have a college education and have a job that is helping communities, [and I'm] helping people achieve the American Dream of owning a home, I still have no pathway to citizenship at this moment."

The DACA supporters marched around the federal building, which houses Senator Joni Ernst's and Senator Chuck Grassley's Des Moines offices, before staging a sit-in at Ernst's office.

"We are making it clear to Joni Ernst we aren't going to give up, we're making it clear to congress we aren't giving up and of course we've made it clear to President that we aren't giving up," said Joe Henry, national vice president of the Midwest division of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

Governor Reynolds told reporters Tuesday that she agrees with President Trump's decision to end DACA, saying it is up to Congress to address the issue and pass immigration law.

While she didn't give specifics as to what lawmakers in Washington should do regarding immigration, she suggested reform could include a pathway to citizenship for some of those working immigrants who were protected by DACA. She said the focus should be on deporting criminals.

There are about 3,000 immigrants under DACA in Iowa.

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