Immigrants whose lives hang in the balance joined San Jose leaders at a rally Tuesday to decry the Trump administration's decision to nix the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“History will not forgive Donald Trump for abandoning our 'DREAMers,'" Mayor Sam Liccardo said, a few hours after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that DACA is "being rescinded."
DACA has granted approximately 800,000 young undocumented immigrants two-year, renewable work permits, giving them the opportunity to legally work in the United States. California is the state with the highest number of DACA recipients, according to the Pew Research Center.
The government will stop processing new DACA applications, but the Trump administration is giving Congress six months to come up with a legislative fix before permits are no longer renewed for those who are already living and working in the U.S.
Hundreds of DACA recipients, with tears streaming down their faces, criticized the president's move outside the Martin Luther King Library in San Jose.
"Removing DACA is going to limit me," said Flor Martinez. "It's going to limit what my future looks like ... what America's future looks like."
Born in Mexico, Martinez was 3 years old when she came to the U.S. She became a beneficiary of the Obama-era program upon turning 18.
"I have felt fearless ever since," she said. "It has removed any limits. It has allowed me to reach my highest potential."
Ari Morales agreed.
DACA has had an "incredible" impact on his life, she said, adding, "I went from not being able to support my family or even put food on the table" to being self-sufficient.
When the mother-of-two heard about Trump's decision to end the program, Morales said, "I was heartbroken."
"I'm scared that my life might change in ways that I can't afford to have it change. I'm scared that I won't be able to provide again. I'm scared that I just won't have the quality of life that I have now," Morales said.
She also said that DACA led her out of the shadows and allowed her to give back to the community.
"I feel valuable," said the San Jose woman, "like the country recognizes me."
Despite the distressing news, Morales said she plans to continue to push for comprehensive immigration reform.
"This is my home. I know no other," she replied.
In a show of solidarity, DACA recipients linked arms Tuesday, fearful about the future, but fearless about defending the program they say changed their lives.
For their part, Liccardo, Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese and religious leaders vowed to do what they can to keep DACA in place, including a possible legal challenge.
"We've got your back," Liccardo said.
NBC Bay Area's Brendan Weber contributed to this report.