Hundreds march through downtown Grand Rapids to protest end of DACA

Posted at 9:58 PM, Sep 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-05 21:59:15-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Rallies were held across the country on Tuesday after the announcement of the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. That included West Michigan, where hundreds of people marched through downtown Grand Rapids to protest the Trump administration's decision. The program shields from deportation hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children.

The marchers met at Rosa Parks Circle before marching through downtown, eventually ending up at Calder Plaza.

One of the people leading the group in Grand Rapids was Juan Mascorro-Guerrero, a DACA student himself. Mascorro-Guerrero came to the United States from Mexico when he was 8 years old.

"Thanks to DACA I was able to work, which means I was able to pay for my school," said Mascorro-Guerrero. "I started at GRCC, then transferred to Grand Valley State University."

Mascorro-Guerrero says it's unclear what will happen to him in a few months. "After I got DACA, I felt like I was able to come out of the shadows," he said. "I felt like I was able to do more in my community. I felt comfortable. I felt like I was living the American Dream. Now that DACA is going away, I feel like I have to go back in the shadows. I feel like I can't be myself. I feel like I can't do things to better our community."

The same goes for Brandon Reyes, another DACA student who was also on the front lines Tuesday night. Reyes also came to the United States when he was 8 years old. He did not know he was undocumented until he was a freshman in high school when he tried to apply for driver's education.

"I do not want more, and I do not want less," said Reyes. "I want DACA not to be touched. If they don't want to give us residency or citizenship, that's fine to me, because I'm grateful for what I have now."

Both say now is not the time to hide but rather to speak out against the decision and make their voices heard.

"If we hide, we're just going to be like the rest of the people hiding in the shadows and letting things pass," said Reyes. "We cannot let that happen. It's time for us to stand up and actually let our voices be heard."

"I really do hope that Congress takes these next six months to come up with legislation to help students like myself, students who are here to stay and who are here to better our community," said Mascorro-Guerrero.

President Donald Trump says he will “revisit” the program if Congress doesn't come up with an alternative.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.