“Home is Here,” the slogan of NAKASEC and Make the Road New York, rang loud from the northern side of City Hall on November 1, 2019. That day, the march they started from New York to Washington DC reached Philadelphia. The journey aims to pressure the US lawmakers to protect the Dream Act (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which the Trump administration has repeatedly threatened to end since January 2016, despite the fact that these programs provide thousands of families with relief, hope, dignity, and opportunities in the U.S.
In their stop in Philadelphia, the marchers held a rally and press conference. They easily resisted the mildly cold weather with chants, clapping, holding hands, drumming, dancing, and addressing the media to underscore determination, unity, diversity, and strength.
Logically, AFRICOM participated in the event. Not attending was not an option. Why? Because in Pennsylvania, hundreds of African immigrants have DACA, TPS, or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status. The termination of these benefits will jeopardize their livelihood.
A similar situation happened four years ago when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) terminated TPS-Ebola. Many African immigrants were affected. Ms. Tierra Giddens, a mother from West Africa and holder of a terminated TPS, is one of these immigrants. Speaking on behalf of AFRICOM, she delivered an emotional speech, calling President Trump to keep families together and create a clear path to legal permanent residency for DACA and TPS holders. She claimed that DACA and TPS holders contribute to the US economy through their businesses and employment. For this reason and others, they say, “home is here.”
Coincidentally, on the day of the rally, DHS extended TPS for Honduras, Sudan, Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Nepal until 2021. Issa Koroma (Student Intern, West Chester University) contributed to this story.