Dozens of people marched and rallied in Riverhead Saturday to demand federal legislation to provide a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented residents in the United States, calling on Sen. Chuck Schumer specifically to deliver on decades-old promises of immigration reform.
The group marched from the North Fork Spanish Apostolate offices at St. John the Evangelist Church to the Peconic Riverfront, where organizers, immigrants and Assemblyman Fred Thiele addressed the crowd.
Community members shared stories of their experiences living in the shadows without legal status or living under the protection of federal programs that provide a reprieve from the threat of deportation, such as Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
The embattled DACA program, established by executive action of President Barack Obama, provides work permits and deportation protection to people born after June 16, 1981 who entered the U.S. before June 15, 2012. DACA recipients must meet certain criteria, including a high school diploma or military enlistment and a clean criminal record.
President Donald Trump announced the program’s cancellation in 2017, but was prevented from terminating it by several federal court orders, culminating in a June 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the termination was “arbitrary and capricious.” The high court but didn’t rule on whether DACA’s creation by executive action was legal.
In July, federal district court judge in Texas ruled in a case brought by Texas and other states that the establishment of DACA by executive action was illegal and ordered the Department of Homeland Security to stop accepting DACA applications and rewrite the program using procedures required by federal law. DHS on Sept. 27 released a proposed rule for public comment, for re-implementation of the DACA program. The Biden administration said it will protect Dreamers, as DACA recipients are known, and recognizes their contributions to the U.S.