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Lawmakers, advocates and experts answer questions about DACA and Senate Bill 4

The Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce hosted a panel discussion about the federal Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals — or DACA — program and Texas' new immigration law Monday at the McAllen library.

The Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce hosted a panel discussion about the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — or DACA — program and Texas' new immigration law Monday at the McAllen library.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Sept. 5 that the government would gradually wind down the DACA program, which protects nearly 800,000 people from deportation. The program allowed people brought to the United States as children to work, attend school and temporarily avoid deportation.

A federal judge blocked part of the Texas immigration law, commonly called Senate Bill 4, from taking effect on Sept. 1. Senate Bill 4 outlaws so-called "sanctuary cities" and allows local law enforcement to ask about federal immigration status.

"There is a lot of confusion, and there is a lot of panic, and a lot of fear in the Hispanic community,” said state Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg.

Panelists explained what parts of Senate Bill 4 were blocked by a federal judge and what the wind-down of DACA will mean for people who participated in the program.

"It's very important to organize both immigrant communities," said Osmara Santana, who received temporary protection from deportation through DACA. "But it's also important for us to organize our allies those that are citizens, those that are residents, by pushing them to register to vote, by pushing them to get out to vote. I think that they are our voice that they are our allies."

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