HAZLETON -- A group of concerned citizens rallied outside Congressman Lou Barletta's office on South Church Street in Hazleton Tuesday, hoping to send a message to President Trump not to end the immigration program known as DACA.
Ed Solenberger of Bloomsburg brought a sign that read “Love Thy Neighbor.”
“That would be your immigrant neighbor. That would be people coming in. There was a time when strangers were welcome here,” said Solenberger.
DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, has allowed thousands of young people who came to this country as children to attend school, get work permits and buy homes without the threat of deportation.
Dwayne Heisler from Catawissa organized this rally.
“We made a promise to people who, kids who had come over here, that if they followed the rules and got a job, went to school, served in our military, these are people who are doctors and so forth, that they would be able to stay,” said Heisler.
But with Congress working on immigration reform, President Trump has set a March 5 deadline for DACA to end.
If that happens, those DACA recipients who have been living here basically as regular Americans could be vulnerable to being deported.
Marilyn Calderon from Freeland has worked in immigrant education for a decade. Her clients are mostly Hispanic.
“The first thing that they say, 'Why us? We are coming here to help. We're coming here to work hard,'” said Calderon.
“These are people who pay taxes. These are people who are hardworking. You can't have a violation of any law and stay under DACA. You would be deported,” said Heisler, saying the argument that illegal immigrants are criminals doesn’t make sense.
“It's horrible. You work hard. You're playing by all the rules, and then somebody pulls the rug out from under you,” said Bari Snyder from Shamokin. “It doesn't matter when we came. We're all in the same boat, new immigrants should be welcomed.”
Newswatch 16 did receive a statement from Congressman Barletta.
“We can deal with the DACA recipients, who came to America through no fault of their own, in a compassionate way. First we must prove to the American people that we will never have to deal with the problem of illegal immigration again.”