Community shows support at rally for DACA students
Dozens of students, faculty and community members rallied in support of DACA and undocumented students on Friday, September 15.
The rally, which took place in front of Honnold-Mudd Library, featured several speakers who came out to support students who are registered under the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrival (DACA) program.
DACA, which was created in 2015 to allow work permits for immigrants who arrived to the US at a young age and had not yet received legal status, has come under fire in recent weeks as President Donald Trump vowed to repeal it and send it back to Congress. Around 800,000 people are currently part of the DACA program.
The roughly 150 students and community members who were present chanted slogans such as “si se puede” and “the people united will never be divided.”
“What we need to do is we need to use this energy to empower our friends, our neighbors, our relatives and tell them there is an attack not only on dreamers,” said local community activist Alex Sanchez, co-founder of Defend he Movement Inland Empire. “There are attacks on immigrants, on women, people of color. And this attack continues every day.”
Two booths flanking each side of the gathering area were raising money for Pomona high school students who cannot afford the $495 DACA renewal fee, said Shayok Chakraborty, lead organizer for the College Community Action Network (CCAN). The group is partnering with Uncommon Good to raise more money on Friday, September 22.
Mr. Chakraborty relayed that so far, the cash and Venmo donations have exceeded $4500, enough for roughly ten kids to afford DACA renewals.
There are students under the DACA program who attend the Claremont Colleges, though the exact number was not disclosed due to safety concerns, Mr. Chakraborty noted.
Several speakers told the audience to stay strong and support their fellow students who are affected by the Trump administration’s decision.
“Remember to stand in solidarity with your brothers and sisters, regardless of your documentation status,” said Pomona College professor Guadalupe Bacio. “No human is illegal.”
Others spoke of the United States’ shaky record on immigrant rights, from the Bracero program to Proposition 187 in California.
Mireya Morales, assistant dean of students at Claremont Graduate University, told the crowd that the university has spaces and resources for students under the program.
“I just want to let you know I’m here for you all and I see you and hear you,” Ms. Morales said.
One Pomona College student in the DACA program told the COURIER that the past few weeks have been a stressful experience for him. He asked not to be identified due to safety concerns.
“You have to be very careful,” he said. “You never can truly manifest your own humanity.”
In a statement issued September 5, Pomona College VP of Student Affairs Miriam Feldblum reaffirmed the college’s commitment to DACA-mented students, including offering pro-bono legal assistance. Pomona College does not share immigration information with any state, local or federal agency, including ICE, Ms. Feldblum said.
Elsewhere, Pitzer College President Melvin Oliver reaffirmed the college’s commitment to protecting DACA and undocumented students, noting the college would “not turn away from the commitments we have made to DACA students and other vulnerable immigrant students.”
Scripps College, who declared itself a sanctuary campus along with Pitzer College, promised students it would not share immigration information with authorities in a September 5 letter from President Lara Tiedens. Claremont McKenna College noted the “safety, well-being and success” of DACA-mented students is of the utmost importance to the school.
The DACA student noted Pomona College does have resources that help DACA students, but felt the college could do more, such as helping DACA students—who are not allowed to apply for scholarships—with costs for books and other school supplies.
In the end, the student just wants to live a comfortable life in the United States, where he has been since he was a child.
“All we really want is to live peacefully, to do what we wish to do without harming others,” he said.