A rally was held in Dublin on Monday evening in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme in the United States.
The DACA programme was established by the Obama administration in 2012 to protect those who entered the US as minors from deportation. Donald Trump made the decision to end the programme in September this year.
Those protected under DACA are called the “Dreamers” and 787,580 were granted approval by the time Donald Trump announced his decision to rescind the programme.
On September 5th, the New York Times reported that US officials said “some of the 800,000 young adults brought into the United States illegally as children, and who qualify for the programme … will become eligible for deportation” as early as March.
The New York Times also reported that Mr. Trump had said in a statement that he was driven by a concern for “the millions of Americans victimised by this unfair system.” Jeff Sessions, US Attorney General, said the program had “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs.”
The rally in Dublin was organised by the Young, Paperless and Powerful (YPP), a group that focuses on the rights of undocumented youth in Ireland. The twin rally in New York was organised by ‘Make the Road New York’, an immigrant organisation based in the US.
The two organisations are appealing to Irish-American Republican congressman Peter King to “stand for the undocumented in the US” before the 6th of December, which is the deadline Congress was given to find a legislative alternative and to draft a bill that would allow Dreamers to permanently stay in the US.
Speaking to the crowd gathered at the Famine Memorial in Dublin, Sumayyah, a member of YPP said: “We believe that no young people should grow up undocumented in Ireland or anywhere. We’re a group of about 25 people, some of us are undocumented, some of us are not.
“But tonight is not about us. It’s about the undocumented young people in the US who really need our help,” she added.
“Young people in the United States are in the fight of their lives [to protect DACA],” said Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) community worker Kate O’Connell, addressing the crowd.
A letter written by a formerly undocumented student called Shiv was read out to the crowd. He spoke of his depression and fear of being “taken away” from his family during the seven years he was undocumented.
“Every single year since 2007 I would watch a Taoiseach go to the US and seek the legalisation of undocumented Irish and I thought, ‘what a hypocrite’. Ireland has always been a nation of immigrants who left many years ago for a better life.
The Irish diaspora in the UK, the US and the Australia, for example, are a testament of how much immigrants can contribute to a country.”
In the letter, he also said “undocumented people make a huge contribution to Ireland, but so often their potential is wasted. We are young and full of potential, we are products of the Irish education system who cannot go to university.”
The MRCI estimates there are up to 26,000 undocumented people in Ireland and that between 3,000 and 5,000 of them are under the age of eighteen.
By Hajar Akl