Valley faith leaders and DACA recipients gathered for a prayer vigil Monday night, one day before President Donald Trump is expected to announce an end to the program for young immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children.
About 50 people attended the vigil outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters in Phoenix.
“The fate of America's DACA recipients, nearly 800,000 strong, is in the hands of our president, and we will pray tonight that he does the right thing for their families and for our country,” said Petra Falcon, executive director of Promise Arizona.
Arizona has 27,865 DACA recipients, according to the latest federal data. Arizona has the sixth-most recipients, behind California (222,795), Texas (124,300), Illinois (42,376), New York (41,970), and Florida (32,795).
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump is expected to announce that he will fulfill his campaign promise to end the program, which he called illegal “amnesty.” Some critics of the program say DACA recipients take away jobs that would otherwise go to unemployed citizens.
[READ MORE: US immigration: DACA and Dreamers explained]
People familiar with the plans for dismantling the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive order said there will be a six-month delay, according to the Associated Press. The delay is intended to give Congress time to decide whether it wants to address the status of the affected young immigrants.
[READ MORE: DACA on the brink]
It was not immediately clear how the six-month delay would work in practice and what would happen to people who currently have work permits under the program, or whose permits expire during the six-month stretch.
Eighty-seven percent of DACA recipients work, according to a study by the National Immigration Law Center and the Center for American Progress, a Democratically aligned think tank. The groups estimate there are 24,243 people using DACA protections to work in Arizona.
Removing those people from Arizona’s workforce would cause a $1.32 billion hit to the state’s GDP each year, the Center for American Progress estimates. The group says the impact nationwide would cost the U.S. $460 billion in lost GDP over the next decade.
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican, expressed support for DACA on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday.
“The median age, I think, is 6 years old for those 800,000 when they came across the border. They should not be punished for the sins of their parents. That's just the basic principle that we ought to follow here,” he said.
“To remove them from the country, to split up families like this, is just not the way we ought to go,” he said.
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