DACA supporters rally in Pomona to cheer Supreme Court ruling

By Javier Rojas | |

PUBLISHED: June 18, 2020 at 5:50 p.m. | UPDATED: June 18, 2020 at 5:51 p.m.

More than two dozen people rallied outside Pomona City Hall Thursday, June 18, to celebrate the Supreme Court’s ruling against President Trump’s attempt to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, a program that protects immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation.

The rally, organized within hours of the Supreme Court’s early-morning decision by the Latino and Latina Roundtable of the San Gabriel and Pomona Valley, began at noon. Many held up signs that read “DACA Victory” and “DREAMERS” as motorists drove by and honked their horns on Garey Avenue and Mission Boulevard.

Jose Calderon, president of the Roundtable, said he was overjoyed when the news broke Thursday morning.

He said the justices’ decision was years in the making, and he was surprised to see it considering there is a conservative majority on the nation’s highest court.

“We’re out here celebrating news that we thought would never come and today we stand prouder than ever,” Calderon said. “DACA recipients have the right to be here and the right to have a chance in this country.”

Pomona Mayor Tim Sandoval was one of a few city leaders, including council members Victor Preciado and Nora Garcia, at Thursday’s rally. Sandoval said that many families in Pomona have been involved in not only the DACA program but advocating and organizing on behalf of it.

“We have undocumented students and parents in this community and they contribute every day to society,” Sandoval said. “This is an important and beautiful day for the city of Pomona, specifically for our DACA students and their families.”

Rep. Norma Torres, D-Pomona, who was brought to the U.S. at age 5 from Guatemala, was one of many members of Congress happy about the Supreme Court’s decision. In the 35th Congressional District alone there are 17,500 eligible recipients, according to a spokesperson in Torres’ office.

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(Photographs by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

“To all the Dreamers who’ve shared their inspiring stories with me, this joyous day is for you,” Torres said in a prepared statement Thursday. “Today’s Supreme Court ruling sends a clear message that DACA recipients are Americans in every way – they are essential workers combatting COVID-19 on the frontlines; they are our family members; our neighbors; our co-workers – they are woven into every aspect of the American fabric. There is still much work to be done to ensure Dreamers are protected from deportation and have a pathway to citizenship.”

DACA, established in 2012, was ended in 2017 shortly after President Trump took office. Since then, there have been countless court challenges fighting its legality. The court’s split decision Thursday does not preclude the Trump administration from making a second attempt to end the program.

Fernando Romero, executive director at Pomona Economic Opportunity Center, said the DACA ruling means a lot to many youth and close friends who have advocated for the program for years.

“This is years of work paying off to so many people who never gave up on this dream becoming a reality,” Romero said. “They made this happen and it’s not over yet.”

Many at the rally Thursday expressed relief at the ruling, but acknowledged it is just the first step toward full legalization for DACA recipients. The event ended with speakers discussing ways they can continue to advocate for immigrant rights and how to support the undocumented community.

Sandra Dimas joined the rally with her 4-year-old son Joseph, a DACA recipient. She said she woke up Thursday “with tears of happiness,” but knows there is still work to be done.

“You don’t get many days like today,” Dimas said. “It makes me emotional that my son matters now and that’s all that I could ask for.”

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