Phoenix-area activists demand Dream Act on symbolic DACA deadline

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Demonstrators gathered outside the offices of Sen. Jeff Flake and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, calling on them to push for a broader DREAM Act. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Demonstrators gathered outside the offices of Sen. Jeff Flake and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, calling on them to push for a broader DREAM Act. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Six months ago, President Donald Trump announced that DACA permits expiring March 5 or later could not be renewed. (Source: CNN) Six months ago, President Donald Trump announced that DACA permits expiring March 5 or later could not be renewed. (Source: CNN)
Activists outside Senator Flake's office said even though the March 5 deadline has been lifted, there's still an urgent need to get a DACA fix in place right away. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Activists outside Senator Flake's office said even though the March 5 deadline has been lifted, there's still an urgent need to get a DACA fix in place right away. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
With chants of "No Dream, No Deal," demonstrators are eyeing a new deadline: March 23. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) With chants of "No Dream, No Deal," demonstrators are eyeing a new deadline: March 23. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Immigration activists held demonstrations outside congressional offices in Arizona Monday, the day the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or DACA was originally scheduled to begin phasing out.

Demonstrators gathered outside the offices of Sen. Jeff Flake and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, calling on them to continue to push not just for an extension to DACA but for a broader DREAM Act. 

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona politics]

Currently, about 700,000 people have work permits through the DACA program, but that represents just a fraction of the total number of "DREAMers" -- roughly 3.6 million undocumented immigrants were brought to the U.S. as children.

Six months ago, President Donald Trump announced that DACA permits expiring March 5 or later could not be renewed. However, federal courts have put that decision on hold and ordered the Trump administration to continue processing renewals. The fate of DACA is expected to head to the Supreme Court, which may not render a decision until 2019.

[READ MORE: Trump rescinding DACA program protecting young immigrants]

Activists outside Senator Flake's office said even though the March 5 deadline has been lifted, there's still an urgent need to get a DACA fix in place right away. The back-and-forth over the program has created a significant backlog within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, leaving thousands of people at risk of having their work permits lapse while waiting for a renewal.

[RELATED: DACA deadline explained]

"They are probably going to lose their jobs. They're going to lose their homes. They're going to lose their income to provide for their families," said Belen Sisa.

The ASU senior has DACA protection through 2019, but she worries about the roughly 20,000 people whose permits expire in March and April.

[RELATED: Arizona group again helping immigrants renew DACA status]

Another DACA recipient and activist, Norma Jimenez, said her friend was in the midst of such a renewal delay.

"Her DACA expired a few months ago and she hasn't heard from the administration. And she's been off work. She hasn't been able to keep work because she's off DACA and she has kids to feed," Jimenez said.

[RELATED: Arizonans join hundreds in raucous protests demanding action on DACA]

With chants of "No Dream, No Deal," demonstrators are eyeing a new deadline: March 23. That's the deadline for Congress to pass a spending bill without a government shutdown.

"If you don't have the Dream Act on a spending bill, you shouldn't pass that spending bill," Sisa said.

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