A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

With DACA decision looming community responds in protest

Beatriz Verneaux
SRJC community members of all ages gathered to remember Andy Lopez and also to protest President Donald Trumps threat to repeal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program last semester.

Not even a 106 degree weather could stop locals from showing up to a vigil held at 6 p.m. on Sept. 1 on Sebastopol Road in Roseland. About 30 people protested President Donald Trump’s possible refutal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

President Barack Obama created the program in 2012 to protect young people who  immigrated undocumented as children. It allows these students to receive a renewable two-year visa, and the right to get a Social Security Number and a work permit. About 800.000 people benefit from the program and about 480 Dreamers are enrolled at the Santa Rosa Junior College.

President Trump has not formally announced his decision but is set to announce on Tuesday, Sept. 5.

Omar Medina, union member and participant in North Bay Organizing Project, organized the event just a few hours in advance..

“We are out here in full support for DACA students. Students who are well deserving, who came here as children, good people who are working hard contributing to our economy,” Medina said.

Medina was proud of the turnout and believes the movement is a national one. When asked why he held the vigil in the parking lot in Roseland, he said the area has a large Latino and undocumented population.

“[Roseland] represents the heart for culture. Cultura. People. This has been traditionally a spot where people have gathered and voiced lots of issues,” he said.

SRJC’s Board of Trustees member Dorothy Battenfeld also participated in the vigil.

“I just think it’s important because we have a commitment at SRJC that we welcome all students and that we want to support all students,” Battenfeld said. “Everybody has the right to education.”

She encourages students who are currently experiencing fear to keep taking classes and not to let scare tactics keep them from pursuing an education.

(Video by Roberta MacIntyre)

Coordinator of Our House Center at  SRJC’s Petaluma campus, Dr. Amanda Morrison, thought it was important to show up in solidarity as an ally.

“I’m anticipating a lot of gatherings like this,” Morrison said.  “Hopefully bigger ones where we’ll get to show that abolishing DACA and criminalizing undocumented people is horrible.”

Even though there are protections in California that could prevent students from getting sent away, Morrison finds it difficult to comfort students.

“I want to acknowledge and honor the anxiety and fear they’re feeling. It’s just no way around the stress of it, the heartbreak of it,” Morrison said

Undocumented youth and SRJC sociology student Laith Ocean called attention to the fact that DACA and the nomination for students who receive it, “DREAMERS” aren’t necessarily positive.

“A ‘DREAMER’ is a name that was derived from the Dream Act which didn’t pass. It stands for development relief and education for alien minors. It’s dehumanizing because it calls us aliens,” Ocean said.

Ocean believes the program implies that parents are at fault for bringing children, since it describes kids as “not at fault” for immigrating.

“But really, when you look at what happened, the US intervened in our country. I come from Nicaragua and so the U.S. came into my country and made the civil war worse, which made my parents come here and that’s why I’m here. Because I’m a refugee here,” Ocean said.

Ocean emphasised  that because of DACA, people started being more vocal about fighting for immigrants.

“If we choose to keep Daca, it’s important to expand beyond that,” Ocean said.

Update: As of Sept. 5, Trump has officially repealed DACA and urged Congress to replace the program before it phases out in March 2018. 

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