STAMFORD, Conn. — Over 150 people gathered Tuesday evening in Mill River Park — just across from Trump Parc Stamford — to protest President Donald Trump's decision to end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Speakers from Stamford Mayor David Martin to the head of Building One Community vowed to support DACA students and young adults — known as "Dreamers."
The rally was organized after Trump announced his plan to end DACA — a program that protects from deportation nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants nationwide brought to the U.S. as children.
The event was opened by Angel Mendoza, 11, of Bridgeport, who sang “Imagine” as the crowd stood in a circle in the park.
Connecticut is home to over 5,000 Dreamers. Two of them spoke at the Stamford rally.
Wendy Cardenas told how she moved at age 12 with her family from their native Peru to Stamford. Cardenas adapted to her new home and graduated from Stamford High in 2006. But she could not drive, did not have a Social Security number and found it nearly impossible to attend a four-year university.
Everything changed for Cardenas after she received protection under DACA in 2013. She now works as a parent organizer for Building One Community, which help immigrants and their families succeed, and is pursuing a bachelor's degree in health care administration.
“It changed my life. I began to dream of a better future for myself and a better way to achieve my goals,” she said. "I want to make a difference here in Stamford, my home. ... I cannot go back to Peru."
Carolina Bortolleto, a DACA recipient and graduate of Western Connecticut State University, moved to Connecticut from Brazil at age 9. She has now lived in the U.S. for 20 years. She spoke in blunt terms, declaring herself "undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic."
"Before DACA, I felt stuck and could not plan for my future," Bortolleto said. "You can dream of the future you want, but cannot plan it because there are so many obstacles in your way."
But with DACA, she said she has a "sense of dignity and belonging," as do other young adults who are able to work, go to college and join the military.
Bortolleto accused Trump of making a "political decision to inflict pain on us and our families. It's a xenophobic decision to rid this country of anyone who doesn't look like them."
She vowed to continue to fight for immigrants.
"Trump wants us to live in silence," Bortolleto said. "But we won't go away quietly — we are here to stay."
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