Video by Reginald Black

On Sept. 20, Dreamers from around the area — people brought to the United States illegally as children who are now enrolled in school or military service — joined with the The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations to protest cuts to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

DACA allowed these young people, once vetted through their application for the program, to stay in the country for a period of two years, with option for renewal. Participants are also eligible for work authorization and a driver’s license for a certain period of time. The program allows immigrant youth to pursue school and development with no clear path toward citizenship.

Proposed cuts by the Trump Administration started a ripple effect of protests across the country. Ralliers ended up front and center at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to demand change at the White House. Leading the charge was Richard Louis Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO.

“The rallies this week have been powerful,” Trumka said. “We’ll change America for the better, we’re taking America back for every worker out there. They wanna keep us poor, they wanna separate us so they can keep us down.”

Trumka shared that his family’s story also began with immigration and that he is proud to be the son and grandson of immigrants.

President Trump is taking legal avenues away from hardworking, aspiring Americans who want nothing more than to live under, and abide by, the constitution of the United States, according to Trumka. “They work hard, they pay taxes, they give their all to this country every single day,” he said.

Trumka vowed that the American labor movement would stand with Dreamers every single day until the young immigrants got the protections and citizenship that they worked hard for.

“The American labor movement rejects racism and discrimination in all forms,” Trumka said. “They violate our core values. They destroy the fabric of our community, they terrorize law-abiding, upstanding people, and degrade our nation.”

Since the rally, President Trump moved forward with suspending the DACA program. Congress now has until March to craft any new legislation that would protect the nearly 700,000 young people that were enrolled in DACA from deportation. Advocates are calling for a new iteration of the DREAM act to provide pathways to citizenship. Opponents claim this would be akin to granting amnesty to people who broke the law. Protests continue, most recently several hundred people flooded the Hart Senate office building on Nov. 9 and 15 protesters were arrested.

“The labor movement won’t back down or back up,” Trumpka said at the close of the rally outside of the White House.. “We’ll stand together, we’ll fight together, we’ll vote together and we’ll win together, we’re taking our country back for all of us.”