-Photostory by Simon Alvarez Belon-
On Tuesday, September 5th, a large group of students from Highlands University in Las Vegas, United World College USA, and leaders of different organizations had a demonstration against the rescinding of protection offered by DACA legislation. Cheers of “undocumented, unafraid”, “sin papeles, sin miedo,” (without papers, without fear) and “el pueblo unido jamás será vencido,” (the people united will never be defeated) were heard as the protesters, commonly known as Dreamers attempted to declare their desire to support those affected by the changes. In a bid to voice their support for the movement, Pat Leahan from the Peace & Justice center proclaimed, “They are us and we are them, we are all of us together.”
So, what exactly is the DACA? The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was an initiative that originated during the Obama presidency, in 2012, as a humanitarian way of supporting those who came to the United States illegally before the age of 16. According to DACA, in order to get a two-year work permit, the immigrants need to have been living in the US for at least 5 years and have not criminal record.
As Dr Eric Romero states, “it is not a pathway to citizenship, it was designed for immigrant students to develop professionally, therefore, they to work without fear of being deported. This is a Dream Act, not an immigration reform.” There have been attempts previously at passing the Dream Act legislation: for example, in 2007, the legislation lost by 6 votes. Obama, however, hasn’t been the only driving force behind this legislation. Dreamers have been essential in pushing Obama into signing an executive order for the Dream act, organizing demonstrations for more than a decade.
In an interview on September 5th, a leader of the demonstration, Anai Hernandez, explained that, “The Trump administration recently signed an order to end DACA; however, it is still not clear how that’s going happen. The impact would force 800 000 immigrants with DACA to be potentially deported, the economy spiralling downwards and the severe lack of students in certain schools.” The community is standing up, for example, in New Mexico, where 20 schools staged a walkout and there were rallies all over the state. Albuquerque had a walkout with more than a thousand people. The movement also has political support with speakers such as the Mora and San Miguel commissioners.
It is important to consider that some of the protesters were protected and studying in Highland’s University under the aid of the DACA. As the president of the University affirmed, a lot of students would be impacted by this decision. According to data collected by the Center for American Progress (CAP), 69% of the Dreamers got more suitable jobs due to the DACA and a 5% started their own businesses. Rescinding the DACA, therefore, would mean the loss of $460,000 million in Gross Domestic Product, in the next decade.
It is assumed, by many, that Trump’s initiative is based on prejudice and the stereotype that Dreamers are criminals and “are stealing jobs from Americans.” The result of this new issue is not definitive yet and the community is preparing to unite in opposition. As the ex-president Barack Obama affirmed on social media, “Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us.” It is time for us to stand up and stop, as a nation, the threat for a possible “exile of our future.”