A group of at least 100 people gathered on Sanford Mall at 1 p.m. Thursday to defend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, better known as DACA. On Tuesday, the Trump administration announced of its intention to rescind DACA, calling on Congress to act.
In the days that followed there has been monumental backlash, with many calling the intended implementation cruel towards young immigrants.
DACA was signed by former President Barack Obama in 2012 after the DREAM Act failed to pass.
The legislation was intended to provide a pathway for undocumented immigrants who were brought to America for permanent residency. It is estimated that upwards of 1.7 million people are eligible for dependency on DACA.
To apply for DACA, undocumented residents must pay a $495 application fee, submit several forms and produce documents showing they meet requirements. Legal representation is unnecessary.
To qualify for DACA, applicants must meet these requirements, although meeting them does not guarantee acceptance.
These people must have come to the U.S. before their 16th birthday, have lived here continuously since June 15, 2007, were under age 31 on June 15, 2012 and were physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, while making their request for consideration of deferred action with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Additionally, applicants must have completed high school or have a GED, have been honorably discharged from the armed forces or are currently enrolled in school.
They cannot have been convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanor.
Students Kim Jacome and Dwlce Zarraga Acosta organized the event in the wake of Trump’s announcement.
“I woke up Tuesday morning to some unfortunate news and I was just laying in bed all day really, really sad,” Jacome said. “I identify as undocumented, and I rely on DACA, and I have for the past four years. I felt like someone in this campus needed to take action. I know I have a lot of support out here today but someone has to initiate change.”
Jacome can be referred to as a “dreamer,” or one of the some 800,000 young people who are enrolled in the program, named after the DREAM Act.
Early Friday morning, Chancellor Everts sent out an email pamphlet as part of health, wellness and safety week titled “Considering Safety.”
In part, the pamphlet read, “Sadly, safety is tenuous. For some, a sense of security that feels solid one day can seemingly evaporate the next. We are seeing the impact of the larger political environment mar the sense of security for our nation’s ‘Dreamers.’ The ramifications of the President’s recent announcement about ending DACA will be far-reaching across the state and nation. Congress now has the opportunity to ensure the safety and security of these U.S. residents who have known no other home. They provide valuable contributions to our society, and deserve the same opportunities as their peers. At Appalachian, we have a working group, established last spring and made up of faculty, staff and students, who are monitoring the impact these decisions are having on our campus and providing expertise, guidance and perspective as we teach and learn amidst uncertainty.”
The email did not go into specifics, leading many to believe that the administration and the chancellor refuse to stand by students under DACA. Jacome said she even had suspicions of the chancellor teaming up with student Colby Carr to create an anti-DACA task force on campus.
“Yes, the administration for sure needs to be more explicitly clear,” Jacome said. “As an undergrad, I never got any support for my identities: being an immigrant, not qualifying for financial aid or scholarships, so I definitely think they need to take a clear stance on what they want to do. Even if it’s a bad one, because skirting around the issue makes us think we have a chance, whereas if you give us a straight-up ‘no, we don’t plan on helping you,’ we’re just like ‘okay, we can go find other places that will.’”
Jacome’s experience coming to America is like that of many other dreamers: they come here when they are young, and often aren’t aware of what exactly is happening to their fate, lest they be in control of the situation.
“For me, personally, I didn’t make the choice to be here,” Jacome said. ”My parents brought me here and I know that a lot of people see that as a mistake, but I don’t understand why I have to face the consequences for something I didn’t decide. I feel like I’ve contributed so much to society since I’ve been able to work, like I’ve gotten a car, I pay my own bills now, and I travel. It’s very disheartening to hear people feel that [I don’t belong here].”
Jacome began the gathering by giving her own account of the ordeal and opened to floor for others to speak up about how others can help support the cause and how far the rescinding reaches. Jacome then led the march through Sanford, Plemmons Student Union and towards the administrators in D.D. Dougherty, with the chant “Defend DACA, support dreamers.”
The rally inside the administration building spurred provost Darrell Kruger to assure the protestors that Chancellor Everts will send out a statement by the end of the day and that students under DACA at ASU will have the help and services of Multicultural Student Development.
Within the building, however, some students were critical of how their grievances were addressed. One pointed out that if the school allows a counter-protest in support of the cancellation of DACA, that the school might as well take down “No Hate, App State,” as that would be contradictory to the school’s message. Another student pointed out that they felt it was unnecessary to have a police officer follow and monitor the gathering, as they posed no violent threat.
Once the building was cleared, Jacome and Zarraga Acosta went back to the initial meeting place on Sanford to thank the supporters and reassure them that they will continue their efforts in the future.
If you want to help defend DACA, you can text “RESIST” to 50409 or “DefendDACA” to 877877.
Story by: Angela McLinton
Photo by: Hayley Canal, Intern Photographer