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  • Maria Fernanda Cabello, the protest organizer, says her group are determined to continue with their campaign.

    Maria Fernanda Cabello, the protest organizer, says her group are determined to continue with their campaign. | Photo: Fight for 15 Texas's Twitter account

Published 26 July 2017

The program grants undocumented recipients a renewable, two-year work permit and a reprieve from deportation proceedings

More than a dozen activists, including several undocumented immigrants, have been detained outside the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's office.

The campaigners had been staging a sit-in under the #OutragedAndUnafraid banner to defend existing immigrant protections and demand permanent legal status.

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The hourlong demonstration was led by recipients and supporters of the former U.S. President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, program.

It grants undocumented recipients a renewable, two-year work permit and a reprieve from deportation proceedings

Demonstrators blocked traffic holding posters that read "Permanent protection. Dignity and Respect."

Police said 15 activists were charged with obstructing a highway.

Last month, the Texas Attorney General urged the Trump administration to repeal the deferred action strategy. 

“We respectfully request that the Secretary of Homeland Security phase out the DACA program,” Paxton wrote in a letter. He was joined by his counterparts from Arkansas, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia, as well as Idaho.

“Specifically, we request that the Secretary of Homeland Security rescind the June 15, 2012 DACA memorandum and order that the Executive Branch will not renew or issue any new DACA or Expanded DACA permits in the future," he added. 

Several demonstrators were arrested during the protest. | Photo: Movimiento Cosecha's Twitter account 

The Austin protest had been organized by Movimiento Cosecha. The national immigrants' rights group said it was the “first and largest undocumented-led direct action since Trump’s inauguration.” 

In a statement, it accused Texas of leading "the country in mass deportations and recently passed SB4, the most anti-immigrant statewide law." 

The protest organizer, Maria Fernanda Cabello, said she hopes the local authorities will not work with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, ICE, telling reporters, "All the DACA beneficiaries are very aware of the risks of this action. We’re counting on Travis County not to cooperate with ICE." 

“If they do decide to cooperate with ICE and go against their policy, we’re going to make sure that all the media knows," Cabello added. 

“With DACA under threat, we know that some will put their hope in D.C. politicians. But we also know that we won DACA not because of any politician, but because our community took fearless action. We marched, we walked-out, we stopped deportations and shut down detention centers. We took risks and put our bodies on the line to tell the people of this country that we were ‘undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic,’” Cabello said in a statement. 

RELATED:
Texas Immigrant Groups Unite Against 'Anti-Immigrant' SB4 Bill

Since August 2016, more than 220,000 undocumented immigrants in Texas had applied for a permit or a renewal of a permit under the DACA program.

Almost 200,000 were approved, according to government figures.


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