DACA vigil draws crowd of more than 200

By Olivia Sanchez | September 8, 2017 7:10pm

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Pilots raise their candles in support of those affected by the rescindment of DACA.
by Olivia Sanchez / The Beacon

Students, faculty and staff members alike gathered by the bell tower Friday afternoon to stand in solidarity with Pilots affected by the rescindment of DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The vigil, organized by campus diversity leaders, garnered a crowd of more than 200.

The purpose of the event was to listen, according to Theology Professor and MeCHA Adviser Rene Sanchez. Sanchez emphasized the need to stand in solidarity and show support.

“You gotta listen to the experience of the other and they will give your their love language,” Sanchez said.

He hopes that eventually, Pilots will be ready to respond, and “love in a liberative way.”

In front of the bell tower was a large purple banner that read “#IStandWithDreamers” and vigil-goers had the opportunity to sign their name on the banner, signifying support of those whose who arrived in the United States illegally as children and others who are affected by rescindment of DACA. 


Students sign a purple "#IStandWithDreamers" banner to show their support for those affected by the rescindment of DACA.
by Jeff Braccia / The Beacon


Although the label “Dreamers” derives from the 2001 DREAM Act that never passed, many DACA recipients still embrace the label. DREAM stands for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, and had it passed, it would have provided a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who were brought into the U.S. without documentation as children. 

Yuridia Hernandez Osorio, coordinator for diversity and inclusion programs, said that ironically, Dreamers living in fear have trouble sleeping at night, let alone dreaming.

Many undocumented students struggle with their mental health as a result of the ongoing stress about their immigration status, and more so in light of President Trump’s Tuesday announcement rescinding DACA. 

Although DACA eased that stress of being undocumented, Hernandez Osorio said that no one should live with depression or anxiety for these reasons.

“No one should wake up every day fearing deportation,” Hernandez Osorio said.

Green Dot Coordinator Tiger Simpson spoke briefly to the crowd, emphasizing the importance of self care during times of uncertainty and despair. 

“Above all else, take care of yourself,” Simpson said.

Students who are affected by the rescindment of DACA, whether they are from mixed-status families or DACA recipients themselves, are encouraged to seek support from the confidential resources in the Health and Counseling Center or Campus Ministry, as well as from their peers.

Candles were passed out to all in attendance and members of the vigil were encouraged to participate in a quiet reflection time. Afterwards, Hernandez Osorio asked that although the flame would soon be extinguished, the crowd not forget the Dreamers. The group followed as Hernandez Osorio extended her arm and lifted her candle towards the sky to be extinguished by the wind. 


Students share candle light at Friday's DACA vigil.
by Jeffrey Braccia / The Beacon


Sophomore Katie Buchanan, a service and justice coordinator in Fields Hall who previously  lobbied for immigration reform last spring, said she was impressed with the crowd the vigil drew. 


Fields Hall Service and Justice Coordinator Katie Buchanan is passionate about immigration reform, and hopes to help educate as many people as possible on the issue.
by Olivia Sanchez / The Beacon


“I know a lot of people are baring their hearts,” Buchanan said. “I really hope some good can come out of this.”

Since the vigil was, for the most part, a very quiet event, many students brought handmade signs to show their support for Dreamers. “No human being is illegal” and “Education not deportation” were among the messages displayed on the posters.


Junior Mira Gill made her own sign for the DACA Vigil.
by Olivia Sanchez / The Beacon


Freshman Sarah Larson brought her own sign to show support for Dreamers at UP.
by Olivia Sanchez / The Beacon


“Although, many gathered here do not know what it is like to walk a day in your shoes, we are gathered today in empathy and to stand up to xenophobia, racism and hate,” Hernandez Osorio said during the vigil.

Those affected by the rescindment of DACA were supported not only by their fellow students, but by faculty members like Professors Louisa Brad, Sarina Saturn and Ali Na, staff, and members of the Holy Cross including Vice President for Student Affairs Fr. John Donato and Fr. Claude Pomerleau. 


Psychology professors Louisa Brad and Sarina Saturn brought their children to the DACA Vigil. Sarina Saturn is pictured here with her daughter (left) and Brad's son, right.
by Olivia Sanchez / The Beacon


The event was organized by leaders from Diversity and Inclusion Programs, Campus ministry, the Health and Counseling Center and the Latino student group known as Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán, or MEChA.

To conclude the vigil, Hernandez Osorio invited the crowd to join her in chanting “I believe that we will win,” and “Si, se puede,” which means “Yes, we can” in Spanish.


Freshmen Daniela Salas Rodriguez and Bibiana Rivera brought their own sign to the DACA vigil.
by Olivia Sanchez / The Beacon

Contact opinion editor Olivia Sanchez at sancheol18@up.edu or on Twitter @oliviarsanchez.
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