Immigration activists plan to protest potential policy changes under Donald Trump’s presidency during a “Day of Action” next week that will feature rallies and marches in the District and about 20 states.
Organizers said the Jan. 14 action is meant to build momentum in their fight to stop Trump from fulfilling campaign promises to pursue mass deportations and other initiatives.
“This is a new world, and we are getting ready for the fight of our lives,” Kica Matos, an immigrant rights director at the Washington-based Center for Community Change, said in a telephone news conference Thursday.
“There’s no question that we will have to use every tool in our arsenal to fight against the xenophobia and bigotry that has infected Trump’s plans when it comes to immigration,” Matos said. “Is civil disobedience on the menu? Absolutely. And, unfortunately it will happen sooner rather than later.”
Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks declined to comment on the planned protests.
In the District, up to 2,500 people are expected to rally inside Metropolitan AME Church the morning of Jan. 14, six days before Trump is sworn in.
Other vigils or marches will be held in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and a host of smaller cities.
Chief among the concerns of activists is the possibility that Trump will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an executive action under President Obama that has shielded from deportation about 700,000 people who came illegally to the United States as children.
Trump has also pledged to cut all federal funding to local and state governments with so-called sanctuary policies, which prohibit cooperation with federal immigration authorities; to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border; to increase penalties for people who overstay their visas; and to push for mandatory jail time for anyone previously deported who is caught reentering the country without proper permission.
Rocio Saenz, international executive vice president of the SEIU service employees union, said Trump’s agenda will create an atmosphere of fear in the country that could affect wages and workplace rights for all immigrant workers.
“This could allow employers to exploit immigrant workers, driving down wages for workers throughout the economy because people will be afraid to speak out,” Saenz said.
Cristina Jimenez, executive director of the United We Dream group for DACA recipients, said immigration activists hope to be a thorn in the side of Trump’s White House in the coming years.
“There is no way that we will stand in the shadows and not fight back,” she said. “There is no way that we’re going to give up on the victories that our movement has fought so hard to win.”