by Cindy Pena
The student organization, CHANGE, hosted a rally last Thursday to educate the public and support the undocumented community at Central Connecticut State University and around the United States.
“The whole point of the rally was to be more educational than angry,” said Victor Constanza, SGA Senator and Vice President of CHANGE. “We wanted experiences from all different aspects, people who were impacted and allies to talk about the immigration issue and we hope that people will remember these stories because not everyone is affected by it, but hopefully they’ll learn and educate themselves.”
The recent actions taken by the Trump Administration on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals prompted the event.
DACA is a program created by the Obama Administration that protects individuals from deportation and gives them a permit to work and go to school.
On Sept. 5, the Trump Administration decided to end DACA and give Congress six months to solve the issue through legislation. President Donald Trump stated that if Congress does not come up with a solution, he will revisit it.
Last week, Trump met with Democratic leaders, Chuck Schumer from New York and Nancy Pelosi from California, to discuss a possible deal to protect DACA. No deal has been made yet.
President of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, Mark Ojakian, made a speech emphasizing that what is happening in Washington may have a serious impact on the undocumented community.
“How is what is happening in Washington humane? How is telling people one day, maybe in a tweet to begin with, that they are no longer welcomed in the country that they call home? That they are going to be forced, perhaps, to leave our country, to give up their education, to give up their jobs and go back to places that they never lived before. How is that humane?” asked Ojakian, to the crowd of about 50 individuals. “The stronger we can come together, the better we can make sure that what is being proposed does not happen.”
The possible elimination of DACA has directly impacted the president of CHANGE, Jose Diaz. Diaz is a DACA recipient and fears for the future of the program — not just for himself, but his peers as well.
“Not having a work permit, not being able to drive, being afraid to be stopped, having to go to a deportation center or having to go back to Mexico, all of those things I always think about,” Diaz said, whose DACA permit expires in two years. “It’s not just about me, but also other individuals whose work permits expire in April. Those are the individuals that are going to be out of work permits first. It is scarier for them, more than me.”
Diaz stressed that although the Dreamers are in danger, there are others who are not under any program that protects them from deportation. The goal of the rally was to bring light to the entire immigration community, not just the Dreamers.
“It was important to bring all these individuals together and remind everyone it’s not just DACA, because that’s the redirect that everyone and the media is taking,” Diaz said. “Yet, we tend to forget about parents who are undocumented, we forget those individuals that don’t qualify for DACA, and even though Congress is working on something, they are only working on something for the Dreamers. Having rallies like this kind of reminds the public that there are other individuals who deserve something and should not be left behind.”
Constanza agrees. “With the rally, DACA is a big thing, but there are other immigration issues that are never talked about such as undocumented students who never got DACA or American citizens with undocumented parents who have the fear of their family being separated,” Constanza said.
Two CCSU students, Jason and Erick Ramos, are U.S. citizens. However, their parents, who came to the U.S. illegally, will be deported Sept. 29. They spoke to the crowd about how it feels to know that their parents will be deported and unable to come back for 10 years.
“I want to dedicate my whole success as a son to my parents, they sacrificed things that I can’t even fathom, coming over here,” Erick Ramos said. “As students we get asked the question of, where do you see yourself in five years, ten years? I don’t know. I have no idea because my success is around my parents.”
Although the future for DACA and the undocumented community is not clear, Diaz stated that he hopes these rallies can help push legislation that will continue to protect undocumented individuals, and possibly create a pathway to citizenship.
“It’s not just about dreaming and hoping for a solution, it’s important to continue to put pressure and educate the community that we need to fight for this,” Diaz said.