Labor Day Demonstrators Turn Out In LA To Protest Possible DACA Changes | KERA News

Labor Day Demonstrators Turn Out In LA To Protest Possible DACA Changes

Sep 5, 2017
Originally published on September 5, 2017 11:10 am
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Let's head next to California to hear how the debate over DACA is playing there. DACA is the program that allows people who arrived illegally in the U.S. as children to stay and work. As NPR's Danny Hajek reports, it affects more people in California than any other state.

DANNY HAJEK, BYLINE: Labor Day in downtown Los Angeles brought together union organizers and defenders of DACA.

KAREN RAGAZZO: (Chanting) Undocumented.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Unafraid.

RAGAZZO: (Chanting) Undocumented.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Unafraid.

RAGAZZO: (Chanting) Undocumented.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Unafraid.

HAJEK: Undocumented, unafraid. Karen Ragazzo leads the chant. She remembers coming to the U.S. from Guadalajara, Mexico, when she was 7. Ragazzo says she's made a life for herself here in LA, and that's why she's anxious about the fate of DACA.

RAGAZZO: I have two jobs. I'm a full-time student. So everything would be taken away. 'Cause this is our home, you know? We were brought here as kids. We grew up here.

HAJEK: She says she's representing others who are too scared to come out and protest.

RAGAZZO: If anything, this is a wake-up call - wake-up call for us to not be in our comfort zone and to kind of just fight back, you know, and say that we're not willing to back down. We're here to fight back.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Chanting) Defend.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) DACA.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Chanting) Defend.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) DACA.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Chanting) Defend.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) DACA.

HAJEK: Los Angeles is at the center of this debate because according to the Pew Research Center, California alone has over 200,000 DACA recipients. That's more than any other state.

MELODY KLINGENFUSS: So 1 in 4 DACA recipients is from California. So the issue for us, it hits home.

HAJEK: This is Melody Klingenfuss, another DREAMer activist, who works with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. She's holding a giant banner that reads No Human Being Is Illegal.

KLINGENFUSS: These are issues that we have been dealing with internally for years. I found out I was undocumented when I was 17. I'm 23 now. So it's been six years of constant turmoil inside of me. It has been extremely exhausting, but at the same time, when we come out to these events and see people support us, it really gives us that motivation to keep going.

HAJEK: That same motivation brought out Jorge Herrera. He's lived here since he was 4, and says he'd be lost if he were sent back to Mexico. Growing up, he says, he was told the American dream could be his.

JORGE HERRERA: Reality is that we really don't think there is an American dream, you know? That myth of having a American dream to us no longer exists.

HAJEK: Regardless of the decision that comes out of the White House, the so-called DREAMers in this crowd say they're determined to stay in the country they call home. Danny Hajek, NPR News, Los Angeles. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.