A group of K-State students rallied at the Bosco Student Plaza Wednesday to show support for classmates whose futures are uncertain after President Donald Trump announced Tuesday the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — a program which granted young undocumented immigrants temporary protection from immigration enforcement.
“If Donald Trump is trying to make America great again, he shouldn’t be trying to reduce immigration,” Jazmine Dawson, sophomore in biology and representative of the Black Student Union, said. “This country was built off of immigrants. The first white settlers of America were immigrants. Unless you’re Native American, you’re an immigrant. If you get rid of immigrants, it’s not America anymore.”
Several dozen students from various student groups on campus demonstrated support for DACA recipients at the rally, and many of the students said they were personally affected by the end of the program. Leslie Ramirez, sophomore in secondary education and president of the K-State chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens, said her sister’s future, as well as the futures of her sister’s two children, is put at risk by the suspension of DACA.
“Just yesterday, my mother was trying to make a plan,” Ramirez said. “She’s trying to figure out who’s going to take care of the children — will she take them back to our country, Mexico, and raise them there? It is basically another world to them.”
Attendees at the rally circulated a petition that urged for a congressional solution to reinstitute the program. Stephen Kucera, graduate student in accounting, signed a petition and participated in the demonstration.
“Most of the DACA students were brought here by their parents when they were young, and in my opinion, too young to be able to say whether or not what they were doing was right or wrong,” Kucera said. “I think we should allow students and those kids to live in the country. For a lot of them, this is the only country they’ve known. They’ve spent their lives here, gone to school here and a lot of them are helping out the economy here.”
The life of an undocumented student can be extremely difficult, Maria De La Torre, senior in computer science and mathematics, said. De La Torre — who only recently received permanent U.S. residency — came to the U.S. when she was 12 years old to escape a devastating financial situation in her home of Guadalajara, Mexico.
De la Torre’s immigration status prevented her from even applying to colleges in her home state of Missouri, despite graduating as valedictorian of her high school class while working 40 hours a week as a waitress, only paid in tips as the restaurant could not provide her with a paycheck.
“You feel like you have to work a hundred times harder than everyone else to get to where they are,” De La Torre said. “It was extremely difficult to be in school, learn English as an immigrant, try to find scholarships and apply for college.”
Though the demonstrators chanted loudly and confidently in support of their position, a sense of fear lingered among the group.
“I’m worried about how much hatred is going to be allowed now that this is going on,” Ramirez said. “We’ve already witnessed hatred in the streets. We’ve already seen neo-Nazis and the KKK having their own rallies. It just amazes me that such things are happening, especially in 2017.”
Despite her worry, Ramirez offered support to DACA recipients, urging them not to be afraid.
“You are not alone, and we’re going to continue to fight for you,” Ramirez said. “We’re going to use our voices, and this is going to unite us. This is worth the fight; this is the future.”
Some students, like Ian Madewell, sophomore in political science and history, said they believe granting amnesty to undocumented immigrants rewards illegal actions, “spitting in the face” of those who come to the U.S. legally.
“In the ideal system I would like to see immigration reform to allow more people to come into the U.S.,” Madewell said. “I think the current immigration system is ridiculous, and it takes years to come in. However, that does not mean the answer is mass amnesty or selective amnesty.”