DENVER, Colo., (CBS4) – Some Coloradans are headed to the nation’s capital to rally outside of the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. It will all happen as the justices hear arguments regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, and whether it was legal for President Donald Trump to end it in 2017.
The program, created in 2012 after an executive order by President Barack Obama, allows undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to apply for protection from deportation. People in this situation are often referred to as “Dreamers.”
The Trump administration argues DACA is unlawful. The Justice Department wrote in its appeal to the Supreme Court, “It was critically important for [Department of Homeland Security] to project a message that leaves no doubt regarding the clear, consistent and transparent enforcement of the immigration laws against all classes and categories of aliens.”
It’s estimated nearly 800,000 people have obtained protection from deportation under DACA in the past seven years. Maria Morales is one of them.
“I was born in Mexico and I moved to the U.S. when I was 12 years old,” Morales said.
Now a teacher at Samuels Elementary in Denver, Morales considers herself a DACA success story.
“When DACA was announced in 2012, I applied for DACA and I was able to get a two-year work permit and protection from deportation,” Morales said. “That allowed me to attend college and graduate and eventually become a teacher and serve my community.”
On Monday, Morales boarded a plane for Washington D.C. to attend a Tuesday rally in front of the Supreme Court. Many other Dreamers from Colorado and other states will join to march, make signs, and share DACA success stories outside the court.
Inside, the nine justices will hear oral arguments over three cases involving DACA. Ultimately, the court could decide if ending the program is legal — or if it can even rule on such a question.
“This is a historical moment because our community is coming together to tell the Supreme Court that DACA is constitutional and it should stay because it has benefited many of us,” Morales said.
According to Morales, a decision in favor of ending the program could end her career, and affect many students whose parents are also Dreamers. It could also force her to move back to a country she hasn’t been to in more than a decade.
“Tomorrow our future is in their hands, so I would like to be there to see how I can support,” she said.
Some say the fate of the program didn’t have to wind up in the Supreme Court’s hands.
Earlier this year, Colorado Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet helped write a reform bill that protected Dreamers and increased funding of border security. It failed by just six votes.