West Side church to hold all-night prayer vigil for anxious 'Dreamers'

Six-month DACA reprieve expected before program ends

SAN ANTONIO – La Trinidad United Methodist Church, a West Side landmark since 1876, will be holding an all-night prayer vigil for the young immigrants known as “Dreamers” as they anxiously awaiting Tuesday’s White House announcement.

President Donald Trump reportedly has decided to give DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a six-month reprieve before abolishing the Obama-era program that temporarily shields from deportation qualified immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

RELATED: Trump expected to end DACA program for young immigrants

Nearly 800,000 DACA recipients could be affected.

“We want 'Dreamers' to know that people of faith stand with them,” pastor John Feagin said. “People of faith are willing to be in a public space, a religious space, and identify themselves as advocates, allies standing in solidarity with them.”

He said church doors will open at 7 p.m. Monday at the church at the corner of San Fernando and the southbound access of Interstate 35 on the near West Side.

Feagin said although the doors will be locked at 10 p.m., there will be a phone number posted on the door for people to call to gain entry.  

IMMIGRATION: DACA and Dreamers explained

He said they will pray that God’s justice for DACA’s sake and those whose lives have improved because of the program created by President Barack Obama in 2012.

Feagin also said they will ask that “common sense” prevail among elected officials. If DACA is given another six months, Congress could take up the issue.

“President Trump and the Congress are the ones who are going to be deciding, making a decision on what’s going to happen with my life,” said Jessica Azua, a 2012 DACA recipient who has been in the U.S. since she was 14.

Azua said she earned a business administration degree with honors from Texas A&M San Antonio, and is like many other DACA recipients now working in a variety of fields.

She said for example, “We’re doctors. We’re nurses. We’re teachers."

Azua said most people don’t know “we’re living in your neighborhoods, on your street.”

Now a statewide organizer for TOP, the Texas Organizing Project, Azua said the federal government knows who they are, where they live, where they work and what they’ve accomplished.

She said a six-month waiting period could open the door for legal challenges to preserve DACA.

READ MORE: DACA Dreamers anxiously await presidential decision

However, 10 states, including Texas, have set Tuesday as the deadline to begin dismantling DACA. If not, their attorneys general will sue the federal government. They said they object to how the program was created through executive order.

Azua said she wants to see DACA survive, but doesn’t want the criteria to change that already involves a $500 fee every two years when they must reapply.

She said instead, the program needs to become more permanent, perhaps even a path to citizenship.

Azua said young immigrants were elated by the opportunities they were granted through DACA, “but it was like a Band-Aid.”

She compared the potential loss of the program to a Band-Aid being ripped off someone’s skin.

“It hurts, so that’s why we need something more permanent,” Azua said.

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