Perez in a statement said Trump's rescinding of DACA, an Obama-era program that shielded immigrants brought to the USA illegally as children from deportation, caused "an unnecessary crisis". Those whose permits expired by March 5 had a month to apply for renewal.
"Until now, Trump and Republican leaders have pulled Republican votes away from three bipartisan proposals to fix the crisis and have stood in the way of the Dream Act", said the national immigrant rights group United We Dream in a statement. The case is tied up in appeals court and will likely end up before the Supreme Court in its next term.
The fight over DACA has sparked a grueling monthslong battle, one that has pitted Democrats in Congress against Republican lawmakers who say the program is an overreach of power.
Immigration advocates have used the unmet deadline as an inflection point to pressure Congress and the White House. That essentially muted the March 5 deadline that Trump had set for the program, and Dreamers whose DACA permits expire can still submit applications to renew their protected status.
"The Democrats made the calculation to kick the can down the road and allow hundreds of thousands of us undocumented youth to live in uncertainty", said Maria Duarte, a DACA enrollee who walked with others from NY to Washington to protest congressional inaction. Many in a crowd of chanting protesters blocked traffic near the Capitol, while others demonstrated inside congressional office buildings.
"Stop playing with our lives!" said Lizbeth Huitzil, a young Mexican woman protesting in front of Trump Tower.
"Without a permanent solution, Trump's cruel and reckless decision will tear more families apart, shatter communities, drive immigrants into the shadows, and make us all less safe as a result", Perez said in his plea for lawmakers to pass a bill.
President Donald Trump is blaming Democrats for failing to pass legislation extending protections for young immigrants that he has tried to end. The Senate considers several judicial nominees this week, negotiations over federal spending are ongoing, and lawmakers are mulling whether to reform gun laws following a deadly school shooting in Florida.