More than a dozen Arkansas residents headed to a rally in Washington, D.C., in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protected immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children and which President Donald Trump canceled earlier this year.
The group of residents left Little Rock on Tuesday. Officials with the organizing groups United We Dream and the Fair Immigration Reform Movement say they expect up to 17,000 people to attend Wednesday's rally, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported .
"For us, this is the moment," said Adrian Reyna, a member of United We Dream.
Trump canceled the 5-year-old program that allows nearly 800,000 immigrants living in the country illegally who were brought as children to remain here. The program provides temporary protection from deportation and permission to legally work.
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Demonstrators are calling for passage of the Dream Act of 2017, a bipartisan bill that would restore protections, before recipients begin losing their deferred status next year. The rally comes amid negotiations on a government spending bill for which some Democratic lawmakers said they'll withhold support unless Congress passes the Dream Act of 2017.
"I think no matter what happens, keep fighting," said Humberto Marquez of Fort Smith, whose deferred status will expire in 2019. "The presence that we'll have out on the streets, the presence that we'll have toward our congressmen will be stronger than ever."
Members of Arkansas' congressional delegation previously agreed with Trump's decision to dismantle the deferred-action program. Sen. Tom Cotton said a legislative fix would amount to "encouraging illegal immigration with minors."