Students and residents gather for rally to save DACA on Denton Square

Students and residents gather for rally to save DACA on Denton Square

Students and residents gather for rally to save DACA on Denton Square
September 06
15:37 2017

About 100 people gathered at the Square to participate in a rally to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Tuesday afternoon.

The protest was in response to President Donald Trump announcing the end of DACA, a program that protects undocumented immigrants from deportation. The Pew Research Center estimates the program protects roughly 800,000 people who were brought to the U.S. as children by their parents illegally.

I’m here to represent my community and represent myself as a Dreamer,” Heriberto Garcia, an attendee, said. “I want to show that even though everyone might be scared, if we fight together we can accomplish big things.”

People of all ages stood in the courthouse lawn to listen to 23 speakers. They held signs with written phrases such as “Save DACA, protect our American dream.” Attendees at the rally also had U.S., Texas and Mexican flags.

Clayton Cummings, a speaker at the rally, advocated for the Bridge Act, which he said is a modified Dream Act. He urged the audience to pressure their representatives into supporting the bill.

Joan Green, an attendee, called the repeal of the program cruel, and said it shouldn’t happen.

“What the President has done is wrong,” Green said. “The DACA people are here and they deserve to be here. I’m hoping that Congress does something about it.”

Matt Farmer, former UNT student and UNT tutor, discussed his plans to run for seat 64 in the Texas House of Representatives, and expressed his disagreement with Trump’s actions with DACA.

Throughout the rally, people participated in six different chants. “Say it loud say it clear immigrants are welcome here,” and “United we stand together we fight migration is a human right.” One of the chants was in Spanish and translated to “Trump we are in the fight.”

The protest ended after attendees held hands during a moment of silence.

Angie Cadena, a UNT professor and candidate for Denton County Democratic Party Chair, said she supported the students who spoke during the protest. Cadena said they could have been arrested at the rally, which would result in them losing their DACA status.

“I like to see students standing up,” Cadena said. “They are putting more on the line than they really should have to. Those students that protested at Trump tower got arrested. They could have been arrested here.”

Despite the protests, some do not agree with DACA.

Connie Hudson, the vice chair of precinct chairmen of the Denton County Republican Party, said she would have given immigrants three months rather than six to go back to their country of origin.

“They’re not legal in the first place,” Hudson said. “I think three months is an act of kindness.”

Others who oppose DACA argue it could be unconstitutional.

The program was introduced by then-President Barack Obama in 2012. Those against the program argued Obama acted outside of his jurisdiction, as the president is allotted as much power regarding immigration as Congress gives him.

In June of last year, the program made it to the Supreme Court, which ended up in a 4-4 deadlock since they only had eight of their nine judges.

Once DACA is repealed, it could leave hundreds of students at UNT uncertain about their status in the country. Manuel Segura, a business marketing sophomore, came from Venezuela when he was one year old. He said while it’s something he expected, it wasn’t until the announcement he thought of the consequences.

“In six months I’m not going to be able to work in the U.S. anymore,” Segura said. “My card is going to expire and that’s when it really hit me.”

Another student, an interdisciplinary studies junior who prefers to remain anonymous to protect his status, said he was surprised the program didn’t end sooner. Nevertheless, he’s been involved in trying to inform people on the issue.

“I’ve been part of demonstrations and protesting,” the student said. “We need a large mass of people to get anything done. There’s a lot of work put into this.”

Trump’s announcement on DACA caused UNT faculty members to take action as well.

An online petition is circulating to have members of Congress pass legislation to support DACA students. The petition will go to Texas Representative Michael Burgess and Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn. The petition states many UNT students are in the DACA program and faculty members are trying to protect those students.

As for what DACA provides, Alejandro Cortez, a public relations junior, said DACA has given him a job and allowed him to pay his bills.

“It’s still a struggle,” Cortez said. “But it’s definitely easier and better than going to school and working illegally.”

On Tuesday, UNT President Neal Smatresk released a statement supporting DACA and undocumented immigrants. It mentioned how the university will be assisting students affected by the program’s roll back.

“I want to make it clear that I unequivocally support DACA, undocumented and other students who are overcoming significant barriers,” Smatresk stated in the release. “This action is a blow to the aspirations of hundreds of thousands of ‘Dreamers,’ including some of our students and alumni.

Featured Image: Tuesday night residents from Denton gathered on the Square to protest the rescinding of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The rescinding of DACA will affect 800,000 people in America. Cameron Roe

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Devin Rardin and Celeste Gracia

Devin Rardin and Celeste Gracia

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