Rallying to protect DACA students

Student groups organize rally for a clean DREAM Act, immigrants’ rights

ZARA CRUDEN, Evergreen reporter

WSU students facing uncertain futures rallied with their peers Thursday in hopes of influencing lawmakers to pass legislation protecting undocumented people living in the U.S.

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one,” read one sign, quoting John Lennon’s “Imagine,” at WSU’s second demonstration in support of a clean DREAM Act.

Students of many ethnicities and backgrounds gathered and marched through the CUB, voicing their support for legislation that would protect recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. DACA is an Obama-era program protecting people from deportation who were brought to the U.S. as children.

Members of WSU’s Crimson Group, which specifically serves undocumented students, and MEChA collaboratively organized the rally.

Celeste Estrada was the first to speak. She talked about the struggles of being undocumented in this country, and how she had already lost one family member to deportation.

“I want to contribute to this country,” Estrada said, “not steal anyone’s jobs.”

After Estrada finished, the rally began its second circle, looping back through the CUB and coming to a stop in front of Terrell Library, where Maria Yepez lead chants.

“I am somebody, and I deserve full equality, right here, right now,” she chanted with the crowd.

After Yepez, Max Madrigal, who has lived in the U.S. since he was 11 months old, spoke. He is now uncertain about his future at WSU, and wonders how he will get a job and use his degree. He said he worries employers will reject him because he is a DACA recipient and could still be at risk of deportation.

Many of the speakers at the rally were DACA recipients, meaning their citizenship status is tenuous. President Donald Trump set March 5 as the program’s expiration date unless Congress acts to save it.

“DACA is just an expiration date,” Madrigal said. “I don’t want to have an expiration date. I want to be an American citizen.”

After a third loop through the CUB, Venus Lomeli spoke. She talked about the difficulties of being a student, and how she has two years to graduate and two years before her DACA protections expire. She wants to further her education beyond a bachelor’s degree, but does not know if that would be possible without the DREAM Act passing.

Lomeli said she does not see herself as an “illegal,” or an “other.” However, she does see herself as a struggle, and she wants to change that.

“I am just so tired,” Lomeli said. “I deserve to be here.”

Caryl Hernandez was the last speaker, and he too spoke to the hardships of being an undocumented citizen in America.

“We are Americans,” Hernandez said. “That’s all we’ve ever known, and all we ever will know.”

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated John Lennon’s song “Imagine” was by John Legend.