PHARR, RGV – Community groups held a protest outside Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office in Pharr Tuesday morning in response to the rescindment of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Paxton was targeted after he, with nine other state attorneys general, threatened legal action if the Trump administration did not move to phase out or end DACA.

La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), A Resource in Serving Equality (ARISE), the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network were among the groups protesting prior to the official announcement by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“We’re here to ask Senator [John] Cornyn, Senator [Ted] Cruz to come out and support us, to support DACA, support the Dreamers,” said LUPE Executive Director Juanita Valdez-Cox. “These are people that now have their work permit, that have their social security [number]; all they are doing is working. They are working and providing for their families.”

Some Dreamers and parents of Dreamers were at the rally, voicing their anger and anxiety over the dissolution of DACA.

Kathia Ramirez, who came to the U.S. when she was seven years old, said she will not be able to continue her college education if she cannot work to pay for it – never mind, helping her husband pay for the care of their two young children.

“We’re going to have to go back to the shadows,” Ramirez said.

Another Dreamer, who declined to be named, said that DACA provided her the opportunity to legally participate in and contribute to the workforce. She says that ending DACA is only going to hurt the U.S. economy.

“It has allowed us, for example, to apply for jobs, where before we weren’t necessarily paying our taxes or necessarily working in the system,” said the Dreamer. “Now we can actually pay our taxes; we can have a job where we get paid by check not by cash. So, for me, it would be like a chance … to continue doing things legally and continue doing things the way a person from the United States should be doing it.”

After picketing in front of Paxton’s office for an hour, the activists formed a circle around a speaker to listen to a live stream of Sessions’ official statement. What had been nonstop chanting and fervor, had now been deflated to mumbles and, for some, suppressed tears. Sessions confirmed that DACA was rescinded and Congress had six months to act before the program’s expiration on March 5, 2018.

“Trump said that he would treat Dreamers with love,” said Valdez-Cox. “We don’t recognize this kind of love.”

Despite their disappointment, LUPE members were prepared for the outcome. The immediately began going over a litany of items for those in the program, reassuring them of their rights and reminding them of the continued battle ahead.

Efrén C. Olivares, racial and economic justice director for the Texas Civil Rights Project, explained that Tuesday was the last day to submit an initial DACA application, and Oct. 5 will be the last day to apply for a renewal. DACA expiration dates beyond the March deadline will be honored, but once they do expire, they cannot be renewed. Olivares, also said that some undocumented immigrants might find protection from different types of immigration relief, such as victims of crime, but that everything is on a case by case basis.

“This is not the end of it, whether in the courts or in the streets, we are not going to give up this fight,” said Valdez-Cox.

The three members of Congress that represent the Rio Grande Valley in the U.S. House issued statements and gave interviews about DACA.

U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of McAllen also expressed optimism in light of the announcement. He believes that while Congress is now under the gun, they have the support to pass legislation before the March deadline.

“I think that there seems to be a feeling in Congress on both sides that the right thing to do is find a way to get them a path to citizenship,” said Gonzalez. “… The president has made several comments, that I would like to give credibility to, that he supports the Dreamers in one way or other, so I’m hoping that we can find a resolution in Congress real soon to get this resolved and put it behind us finally.”

Gonzalez also pointed out bills that are currently being drafted, including one by Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado called the Bridge Act, which is similar in protections to DACA. But, he says that Dreamers and supporters should continue to lobby their representatives.

“It is our country,” the unnamed Dreamer said. “… And, DACA does not define us. DACA is a piece of paper that allowed us to do things here and gave us opportunities. But, at the end of the day, we’ve been here without it for longer than we’ve been here with it.”

U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela of McAllen issued this statement on the DACA decision:

“The racist has arisen. Within a few days after Donald Trump expressed glimpses of humanity with Hurricane Harvey victims, the dark side of his soul once again overshadows all else. In April, President Trump assured dreamers that they should “rest easy” and not fear deportation. However, today while heeding the advice of his three evil tutors – Sessions, Miller and Bannon – the President has chosen to follow the dictates of the radical racist wing in his administration and to rescind DACA.”

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar of Laredo issued this statement:

“In my home state of Texas over 120,640 young people, who have known no other country, have benefited from the DACA program. Of those, over 104,959 are working and contributing over $6 billion annually to the GDP. Ending this program, as the Trump Administration has announced today, is not only a failure on humanitarian grounds, but also economically.

“I will continue to fight to keep families together and to keep our American values strong while opposing the building of walls. We need a bipartisan comprehensive immigration approach to solve the challenges at our border and ensure that DREAMers have a place in the nation that they love. I call on my colleagues in Congress to act now and to stand up to protect families and the rights of everyone in our country.”

“It is our country,” the unnamed Dreamer said. “… And, DACA does not define us. DACA is a piece of paper that allowed us to do things here and gave us opportunities. But, at the end of the day, we’ve been here without it for longer than we’ve been here with it.”