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January 8, 2018

Hundreds gather in Northampton vigil protesting rescission of DACA

(Jackson Cote / Daily Collegian)

In protest of the Trump administration’s sudden rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and to stand in solidarity with the undocumented immigrants affected by the controversial action, approximately 300 gathered in rain and by candlelight in Northampton Tuesday night.

Eduardo Samaniego, a volunteer with the Pioneer Valley Workers Center and a third-year student at Hampshire College majoring in constitutional law and education, was one of the organizers of the event.

“Taking this away goes against everything really that’s American. It is economically unsound,” Samaniego said. “There is no argument to take DACA away, other than that it’s part of a white supremacist agenda.”

Samaniego also reasoned that DACA is supported by Democrats and Republicans alike—as it was passed with bipartisan support—along with 73 percent of the American public.

“This being taken away goes beyond the will of the people,” he said.

According to a press release sent from “Immigrant Youth and the Pioneer Valley Workers Center,” the scheduled vigil and march was organized “in support of Undocumented and DACAmented youth who are threatened by the ending of DACA.”

Additionally, the event was intended to be a response to the termination of DACA and a call on congress to take action against the end of a program that had protected approximately 800,000 young undocumented immigrants—otherwise known as Dreamers, who were brought to the U.S. as children—from deportation.

“My future is up in the air. I have no assurance,” Luis Guevara, a Hampshire College sculpture and Latin American studies major, said.

Guevara, who will graduate from Hampshire College in 2020, is a recipient of DACA. He believes that it is important to be vocal and stay informed about the Trump administration’s actions.

“You’re basically leaving people on the streets. It’s crazy to be a human being and just tell people, ‘You can’t have this. You can’t work to survive,’” Guevara said.

“I’m not sure how this is going to affect my life,” he added.

The announcement to end DACA was made on Tuesday morning by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The end of the program means that the Department of Homeland Security will stop processing any new applications for DACA. It will also mean, “close to 800,000 students and young immigrants will lose legal status, work permits and driver licenses over night,” according to the press release for the vigil.

During the event, Samaniego and three other recipients of DACA shared their personal struggles in immigrating to the United States—working tirelessly to make ends meet and live their lives in a new country.

Samaniego discussed how he immigrated from Mexico to rural Georgia. In his senior year of high school, he became homeless and was eventually taken into the home of a pastor.

He also recalled how, despite being the student body president of his class—in addition to his resume of many extracurriculars and recommendation letters—he was still prevented from applying to college. He did not have a social security number.

During the vigil, Samaniego and other organizers urged participants to reach out to their local state representatives. At one point, Samaniego gave out the phone number of Massachusetts State Senator Stanley Rosenberg. He read Rosenberg’s phone number in both English and Spanish, telling those listening to demand justice.

Of the 300 people who turned out for the event—which took place at 20 Hampton Ave., the location of the Pioneer Valley Workers Center—many were students from the five-college community. Some of the participants carried signs, and almost all carried candles.

One participant’s sign read, “Don’t be a caca. Defend Daca.” Another’s read, “We’re here to stay!”

“I think this is what the vigil is, to say, ‘We won’t stand up for this,’” Hampshire College student Zanya Andrade Fitz said.

Andrade Fitz, who will graduate in 2020 and is studying immigration law, the prison industrial complex and theater, added, “The least you can do is show up and listen to people’s feelings, to make people feel validated.”

Samaniego said that he believes passing the DREAM Act at the federal level and the state legislature in Massachusetts is one of the next steps in this struggle, arguing that undocumented families, who have been long time residents and taxpayers in Massachusetts, should be allowed to get drivers licenses.

“We acknowledge and demand that members of Congress pass the 2017 DREAM Act or similar legislation that will lessen the anxiety, fear and economic backlash that comes with the termination of DACA,” read the vigil’s press release.

Close to the end of the vigil, Samaniego began a multitude of chants that most of the event’s participants joined in on.

“We are the Dreamers, the mighty, mighty Dreamers, fighting for justice and no deportations,” chanted Samaniego at one point during the night.

Jackson Cote can be reached at jkcote@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @jackson_k_cote.

Comments
2 Responses to “Hundreds gather in Northampton vigil protesting rescission of DACA”
  1. Nitzakhon says:

    It’s called “illegal” for a reason.

  2. oatka says:

    Note that the signs are in Spanish.

    So much for assimilation.

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