LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Civil rights groups kicked off a week of planned local events Monday to show support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which many fear could be altered or ended completely under President Donald Trump.
Started under President Obama, DACA allows people who were brought into the U.S. illegally as children to work and study in the country without fear of being deported.
As part of the weeklong series of events organized by the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights and the California Dream Network in collaboration with young undocumented immigrants, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) met with young immigrants Monday morning at the UCLA Labor Center, where she pledged to fight for DACA's survival.
"I think it's so critically important that people see you guys and that they hear your voices," Harris said to the Dreamers, some of whom are college students studying law and environmental policy.
Melody, who holds a master's degree from USC, was an orphan when she came to America at age nine.
Eric, a UC Irvine student, was brought from South Korea when he was eight years old.
Doris, who was five years old when she arrived to the United States, plans to attend UC Berkelely.
Harris said opposition to Dreamers would disappear if everyone had a chance to meet them, including former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, whom she questioned during his confirmation hearing in April.
She asked him then if he had met a Dreamer; he said no.
"If the vast majority of people who are expressing opinions about this issue had the opportunity to meet our Dreamers, they would understand it's just the right thing to do," Harris added.
The Senator cosponsored the DREAM Act, which would ensure permanent resident status to nearly a million young people.
California is estimated to be home to 1 in 4 of the nation's total DACA population.
The Trump administration has until Sept. 5 to respond to a lawsuit by several state attorneys general and decide whether they will rescind DACA. Last week, broadcast reports indicated Trump could act in the near future to end the program.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
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