Dozens of people turned out in Omaha and Lincoln for rallies and prayer vigils on Monday to call on federal lawmakers to support the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that gives protection to young people who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents.
Monday marked the March 5 deadline President Donald Trump set for Congress to restore DACA with a legislative version of the policy. Multiple federal judges have held up the Trump administration's order to stop renewing 2-year DACA permits after the March 5 deadline, and ordered the Department of Homeland Security to resume renewing all existing DACA permits.
The program affects more than three thousand DACA recipients in Nebraska.
Despite the cold temperatures, 'Dreamers,' volunteers, organizers, community members and some Nebraskan senators attended the prayer vigil at Memorial Park to show support for immigrants.
"We really want Congress to act and look for permanent solutions for DACA recipients, TPS (Temporary Protected Status) recipients, as well as protect our refugee communities here," said Abbie Kretz, a lead organizer for the Heartland Workers Center.
Among the crowd were several TPS recipients from Latin American countries who are fighting for permanent residency in the U.S. Jose Manuel Molina from El Salvador was granted TPS 17 years ago after a devastating earthquake. He works at a meat processing plant in Omaha, where he says many TPS recipients work.
"We've been here since 2001 with TPS and we work hard here and support the economy. Both the country's and here in Nebraska because this is home for us," said Molina.