NEW YORK - Immigration rallies are being held across the country Thursday, which is the deadline for tens of thousands of immigrant children to renew their protection from deportation.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program is set to begin winding down after President Donald Trump announced its eventual end, leaving many families in legal limbo.
Protesters are demanding a clean DREAM Act to make the program, enacted via executive order by then-President Barack Obama, permanent with fixed parameters to prevent uncertainty for roughly 800,000 people who live and work in the U.S. under the program.
One such rally was held on Staten Island, organized and attended by DACAmented Youth, members of Make the Road New York, La Colmena, Project Hospitality, the Dream Action Coalition, El Centro del Inmigrante, and the Arab American Association of New York.
They are part of a National Day of Action, with organizers hoping for a clean DREAM Act they say will protect DACA recipients without any add-ons that hurt immigrant families.
October 5 marks the last day for immigrant youth to submit their DACA renewal, with tens of thousands of Dreamers unable or unwilling to submit renewal applications in time. Organizers say the end of DACA puts too many undocumented families at risk of deportation and will continue to cause pain and devastation to immigrant communities across the country.
The Department of Homeland Security stopped accepting new applications after President Trump's September 5 announcement, but existing recipients with permits that expire on or before March 5, 2018, were still eligible to apply for renewal.
"There's a lot of anxiety," legal advocate David Haro said. "A lot of our clients have jobs, stable lives, and they're worried about being destabilized."
Federal immigration officials provided the nationwide statistics on renewal figures before and after the president's announcement. Before September 5, there were 58,000 renewal applications, and there have been 54,000 just in the last month. Approximately 42,000 eligible Dreamers have yet to apply.