Dozens of immigration advocates marched up to the governor’s office Friday to demand he sever support for a lawsuit challenging a federal program that allows some undocumented immigrants to legally stay in the country.
An administrative assistant told the crowd, which included delegates from La Familia Vota, LUCHA, the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, and LULAC, that a representative for Governor Doug Ducey would come “buzz” them into the office. While they waited, they gathered in a circle, held hands and prayed that Ducey’s eyes would be opened to the merits of President Barack Obama’s deportation relief programs, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans.
A federal appeals court in New Orleans heard arguments for and against the programs Friday.
Twenty-six states, including Arizona, are trying to block DAPA and an expansion of DACA, arguing that Obama overreached his power when he circumvented Congress to implement them via executive order.
DACA, which has been in effect since 2010, allows undocumented immigrants under the age of 30 who came to the country as children, have a high school diploma, and a clean criminal record to obtain a work permit. In November, Obama announced plans to remove the age cap and, through DAPA, begin offering deportation relief to the parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.
Both have been put on hold pending judicial review.
“When DACA came forward, we believed it was an answer to prayer,' said Kit Danley, president of Neighborhood Ministries, who led the prayer circle. “Our message today is that we haven’t stopped praying. We haven’t stopped believing for our community.”
Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo, who attended the rally, called on Ducey to “stand down” and recognize the economic benefit of allowing undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows.
“Why are we putting barriers in front of these young people?” he yelled up at the Capitol building.
After decades of knocking down community ties, State Senator Martin Quezada said, “we have opportunity to mend bridges with the immigrant community, with the Latino community, with our minority population here in Arizona.”
“Doug Ducey is wasting this opportunity,” he said.
Quezada, D-Phoenix, said immigration advocates have been trying to get an audience with the governor since the beginning of the year to discuss the lawsuit, but have “yet to receive a response.”
“I will continue to stand here until Governor Ducey pulls us out of this lawsuit,” he said.
Despite the secretary’s assurances, the representative from Ducey’s office was a no show.
The demonstrators each signed their name to an oversized document laying out their demands and headed home disappointed.
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As they loaded into the elevator, a couple people observed: “Well, that was rude.”
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