Yazmin Bruno said she and her dad applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, together. She was accepted. His acceptance never came.
At first, she said, she felt guilty because she pushed him to apply. She wanted them to be protected together.
“I didn’t break my father’s heart,” Bruno said. “This government, this system broke his heart. They broke our dreams.”
About 40 people joined her on Saturday, gathering in Washington Square Park to call for a path to citizenship for all, a week after a judge’s ruling declared DACA illegal.
Bruno, who works with the nonprofit youth-led student immigration organization Kansas/Missouri Dream Alliance, said it’s important to recognize that DACA did not cover everyone and isn’t a permanent solution.
“We are here today to celebrate the resilience of migration, to celebrate the resilience of immigrants,” Bruno said. “We are here today because DACA is not enough, because we need citizenship for all 11 million undocumented people.”
The park sits across from Kansas City Immigration Court. That’s why organizers picked it. The fifth floor, Bruno said, is where families are torn apart.
“It is not right,” she said. “Where people like my father, people like my mother can get ripped away from me and my siblings, people like my uncle, people like my aunt, can all be torn apart.”
Behind her, signs read “no more deportation,” “abolish ICE,” “citizenship now” and “stay families together.” Other speakers shared their personal stories and called for change.
Tens of thousands of young immigrants in the country without legal status are in limbo following a July 16 ruling from a federal judge in Texas that declared DACA illegal while leaving the program intact for existing recipients, The Associated Press reported.
The ruling bars the government from approving any new applications. In a statement, Citizenship and Immigration Services said it “will comply with the court order, continue to implement the components of DACA that remain in place.”
It’s the latest twist for the program, which has been struck down and revived in a constant stream of court challenges since then-President Barack Obama created it by executive order in 2012.
Immigration attorneys say the court decision has renewed fears about the future of the program and once again puts young immigrants in a precarious position.
Karla Juarez, executive director of Advocates for Immigrants Rights and Reconciliation, told The Star it’s important that people come together and advocate for change. Juarez, now 29, used to be undocumented.
She urged people to stay informed and to contact their representatives.
“It’s about basic human rights,” Juarez said.
Bruno led the group in chants of “unstoppable, undeniable, undocumented, unafraid,” and “say it loud, say it clear: Immigrants are welcome here.”
“I am undocumented and unafraid, queer and unashamed,” Bruno said. “And those were words that took me years to accept.”
She called on people to join her in asking Congress to pass the U.S. Citizenship Act.
“We’re here and we’re not going anywhere,” Bruno said after the event. “So what are we going to do with these undocumented folks? We have to support them and we have to be there.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.