Nevada’s pro-immigrant community is participating in a national “week of action” this week in support of undocumented residents brought to the country as children and other temporary protected status recipients from Central America.
The public events, including rallies and prayer nights, come as the Friday deadline for Congress to pass a federal spending bill approaches. Immigration advocates are pushing for some version of the DREAM Act to be included, though there are no indications that will happen.
Las Vegas community groups, like the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada and Mi Familia Vota, plan a gathering Wednesday evening outside the federal courthouse on Las Vegas Boulevard South. In Reno, a smaller group is expected to meet outside the federal building there.
“I think people knew this week was the last chance, or it wasn’t going to happen,” alliance spokeswoman Laura Martin said. Immigration supporters met Monday at a Catholic church for prayer and Tuesday outside Republican Sen. Dean Heller’s Las Vegas office.
They expect around 300 people to attend Wednesday night’s rally.
While participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program have rallied for months to garner support for legislation that would provide them a path to citizenship, the idea of political activism is newer for some people who have temporary protected status, or TPS, and who saw the threat to that status materialize only recently, when the Trump administration began reviewing the program.
“Dreamers have always been good organizers,” Martin said. “And I think TPS holders realized (President Donald) Trump was not going to give any mercy to people not born in the U.S.”
On the other side of the aisle, critics argue that the programs were meant to be temporary. When DACA was founded, former President Barack Obama did so through executive order, which some critics argue was unconstitutional.
The Trump administration argued that it ended TPS for Nicaraguans and Haitians because those countries were once again safe for citizens who’d fled disaster or violence years ago.
Next on the line is status for Salvadorans. The administration must decided by March 9 what to do with some 200,000 Salvadorans living in the U.S. who have temporary protected status.
Activists will gather outside Heller’s office again Thursday and take a break Friday. They will regroup with volunteer attorneys from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Saturday at the Culinary Workers Union on Commerce Street, where people with temporary protected status can seek free legal advice on their potential options if their status expires.