The Star-Ledger

'Undocumented And Unafraid' Immigrants March On ICE Headquarters

The Star-Ledger — March 5, 2018

By Kelly Heyboer
NJ Advance Media for

Nearly 200 protesters chanting "No papers, no fear!" marched through the streets of Newark to the offices of federal immigration officials Monday to call for an extension of the DACA program for unauthorized immigrants.

The protesters, who included both immigrants living in the country illegally and their supporters, shouted "Shame, shame" outside the windows of the federal building on Broad Street that houses the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE.

"Today, we stand here united to denounce this administration's hunger for mass deportation," Esder Chong, an unauthorized immigrant attending Rutgers University, told the crowd as the march began.

The marchers drew mostly cheers and honking horns of support as they walked about a mile from the campus of Rutgers-Newark to the ICE offices in the federal building. The protesters, who had a Newark police escort, briefly stopped traffic as they marched back and forth across Broad Street.

Their shouts in front of the federal building drew some Department of Homeland Security police officers outside the building, but the protest remained peaceful. Some people inside the federal building came to the office windows to watch.

The Newark demonstration was one of six scheduled around New Jersey Monday to mark what was scheduled to be the end of a program protecting immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.

President Donald Trump declared last year that March 5 would be the last day of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program unless Congress passed a new immigration reform plan.

Trump's plan to quash the program has been tied up in court, allowing the DACA program to continue accepting renewal applications from the nearly 800,000 DACA recipients. But protesters around the country are still using the March 5 deadline to call for protections for the young unauthorized immigrants known as Dreamers.

"This is my home. This is our home and we will keep fighting until everyone in our community is safe," said Chong, a DACA recipient and Rutgers sophomore who helped lead the Newark rally. "We are taking back the fear that stains this March 5 deadline set by the administration."

Chong said she came to the U.S. from her native South Korea at age 6 and grew up as an unauthorized immigrant in Highland Park with her parents. She is a sophomore at Rutgers-Newark and wants to be a public policy attorney. But, she said she is "worried and frustrated" as the fate of the DACA program remains undecided.

Several other DACA students told similar stories at the rally. Rutgers-Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor was among the officials speaking in support of the Dreamers.

"We are putting a stake in the ground for what we're supposed to stand for: E pluribus unum -- out of many, one. Out of many, community," Cantor said, quoting the traditional Latin motto of the United States.

The Newark rally is one of six scheduled protests across the state Monday. The other protests were planned for:

The protests were organized by more than 30 local groups, including Make the Road New Jersey, RU Dreamers, New Labor, the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, NAACP- New Brunswick Area Branch, Women's March on New Jersey and New Jersey Citizen Action.

President Barack Obama's administration began DACA as a way for some children brought to the country illegally to get protections to work and go to college without fear of deportation. Congress has been unable to agree on a plan to extend the program after Trump declared his plans to end it.

In New Jersey, approximately 22,000 unauthorized immigrants had registered under the DACA program as of last year. An estimated 51,000 immigrants living in the country illegally were eligible for the program in New Jersey.

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