U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions leaves after a press conference in Washington D.C., the United States, on Sept. 5, 2017. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has been rescinded. The move potentially puts 800,000 illegal immigrants in danger of deportation. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)
NEW YORK, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- Dozens of people were handcuffed and removed by police during a rally Tuesday outside Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, to protest U.S. President Donald Trump's plan to scrap a program shielding from deportation immigrants who came to the country illegally as children.
Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of Trump Tower at about 11 a.m. on Tuesday, chanting "undocumented, unafraid," "We are human beings, our dreams are all equal, protect dignity and all of our people!"
At least 34 of the protesters who sat down in the middle of Fifth Avenue and briefly blocked traffic were taken away in handcuffs by the police.
Images and videos of the rally were widely circulated on social media. Many of the netizens expressed their support and sympathy for the protesters.
"... #DACA recipients risk arrest outside Trump Tower. @NationalNurses stands with Dreamers! #TuesdayThoughts," tweeted RoseAnn DeMoro with a short video showing protesters held hands and sat down on the Fifth Avenue.
The protests came shortly after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the administration would rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program with a six-month delay.
The DACA beneficiaries were known as Dreamers in the United States.
The DACA, which was passed under the Obama administration in 2012, grants temporary residency and work privileges to those who entered the country before their 16th birthday.
Under the program, Dreamers can apply to defer deportation and legally reside in the U.S. for two years. After that, they can apply for renewal.
By March 31, 240,700 people had applied for renewal in the 2017 fiscal year and nearly 800,000 renewals have been approved over the life of the program.
"We warned you not to threaten our neighbors, @realDonaldTrump," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Tuesday minutes after Sessions made the announcement.
"New York City will fight to defend our Dreamers," de Blasio added, using a term commonly used to refer to recipients of DACA.
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Monday also threatened to sue if Trump moved to end the DACA program.
Yet there are voices expressing concern that the DACA has amounted to an amnesty for illegal immigrants.
"I support immigrants and immigration standards focused on national security only because it is clear to me that immigrants have always been and remain a huge net positive to America," Lee Cheng, co-founder and director of the Asian American Legal Foundation, told Xinhua Tuesday.
"However, I have to say that as with everything Trump related, there is a lot of misinformation being promulgated by the media and immigration activists," Cheng said.
The problem and challenge with "broad amnesty of almost any kind" can be seen in the aftermath of the amnesty granted to illegal immigrants under President Reagan, he said, "No one can dispute that the amnesty absolutely encouraged even more illegal immigration in the following 2 decades and is the driver of many of the immigration issues facing America today."
The Trump administration is simply asking Congress to take appropriate action on immigration law rather than extending DACA -- Congress has the power and also the authority, as well as the duty, to do so, he said.
"They get 6 months to get something done they should have done years ago but never had the guts or principle to do -- pass comprehensive immigration reform," Cheng said. "It needs to be done. Congress has been punting on it for years because no one wanted to catch the political fallout from one side or another."