LOS ANGELES — Dozens of immigrant rights activists and immigrants like Oscar Perez rallied in their cars around MacArthur Park in celebration of the Supreme Court’s ruling to allow the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to continue.
“I’m just so happy that it was able to come back and have the opportunity to actually apply for it as well,” said Perez, who was only a one-year-old when his family brought him to the U.S. from Guatemala.
But when the DACA policy was rescinded by the Trump administration in 2017, Perez also missed his opportunity to apply, not knowing if he would ever get that chance, again.
“When I wasn’t able to get DACA, I would always go outside, go to school having that fear that maybe one day, I might get deported. I might get arrested by ICE or my parents. My parents might get arrested,” Perez said.
That feeling pushed Perez to join the Coalition of Humane Immigration Rights of Los Angeles, also known as CHIRLA, for the last two years. On Thursday, he set out to MacArthur Park to celebrate the reinstatement of DACA. The program was implemented during former President Barack Obama's administration allowing young immigrants living in the country illegally who were brought to the U.S. as children to apply for a two-year deportation deferment and a work permit if they qualified.
In a tweet, Mayor Eric Garcetti wrote in part, “Those who dared to dream are #heretostay & can rest assured that Los Angeles remains a place of possibility and opportunity.”
“We know that this is something temporary and that’s why we are fighting so that Oscar, myself and many undocu-folks don’t have to worry about this again,” said Kathia Garcia, a youth organizer with CHIRLA.
During the rally, Perez took in the moment, knowing that soon he would be able to apply to become a DACA recipient.
“The fight isn’t over yet, definitely,” Perez said.
But until then, he will continue to fight for change not only for his family but for others in his same situation throughout L.A.