By Greg Hernandez
The Los Angeles LGBT Center joined hundreds of students, community leaders, and elected officials in MacArthur Park on November 12 to publicly show support of the federal policy known as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments earlier in the day on whether to allow the Trump Administration to end the Obama-era policy that allows more than 700,000 young people who came to the U.S. as children to legally remain in the country to work and attend school.
Nearly 40,000 LGBTQ immigrants are currently protected by DACA which was enacted in 2012, according to The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy at UCLA School of Law.
“We are proud to be an ally in this fight with all of you today and always,” Center Policy and Operations Manager Maria Melo told the crowd gathered at the park’s Levitt Pavilion. “Together we will go to any lengths possible to support you because you are Los Angeles! You are our family. Together, we are strong, healthy, equal, and complete.”
She pointed out there are anti-LGBT laws on the books in more than 70 countries, including death sentences in at least eight of those countries.
“The community gathered here today to fight for DACA is powerful, beautiful, and only positioned to win and grow stronger as we gather together in spaces like these to fight like hell for our civil rights,” Melo said. “While this Administration may try to deny you the only home you’ve ever known, an overwhelming majority of Americans from every corner of this country know the truth: you pay taxes, contribute to Social Security, build businesses, create jobs, and grow the economy. More importantly, you are already part of America’s future.”
She went on to lead the crowd in a chant: “Home is here! Home is here! Home is here!“
Hundreds of teens had walked out of their classes to show their support of DACA. They held a morning rally downtown then marched to MacArthur Park for the afternoon demonstration.
“Nine people [on the Supreme Court]are making the decision for my sister’s life and for that of nearly a million others,” said a female Garfield High School student whose sister is a DACA recipient. “It astounds me that that is what we have come to.”
Among the elected officials on hand, State Senator María praised the students. “Every time there’s a push forward for women’s rights, for civil rights, for LGBTQ rights, the youth are right there in the front,” she said.
The Center was part of a coalition of groups represented at the rally that included the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), California Dream Network, Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), UCLA Dream Resource Center, San Diego Border Dreamers, National Immigration Law Center, Public Counsel, LGBT Center Orange County and UCLA’s Improving Dreams, Equality, Access, and Success (IDEAS).