Students stage campus walkout, show support for clean DREAM Act

Riley Youngman News Producer and Sports Chief
OSU student Priscila Narcio leads a chant during the Oct. 9 student walkout to gain support for a clean DACA bill. Narcio herself is a DACA recipient, and advocated for a show of solidarity with undocumented students in Oregon and the United States as a whole. 

Lauren Sluss, Editor-in-Chief and Tiffani Smith

Protesters encourage letter writing campaigns to Rep. Greg Walden to raise awareness of the presence of undocumented students in Oregon.

Amidst the rain pouring and boots splashing through puddles, the chant “Unite, fight back, we want a clean DREAM Act” rang clear as around 30 students marched today throughout the Oregon State University campus, joining the national effort to show support for a clean DREAM Act.

This national walkout day is in response to President Donald Trump and the U.S. Justice Department’s Sept. 5, 2017 announcement that the The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program would be terminated in a six-month time period, according to human development and family science major Priscila Narcio.

“We formed a walkout for national walkout day happening today, Nov. 9. It is to show advocacy to pass a clean Dream Act since the rescinding of DACA on Sept. 5,” Narcio said. “This is going on nationally; there are colleges and universities in D.C., Texas, Washington and California who are doing a national walkout day.”

The students gathered in the Student Experience Center around 11:30 a.m. with signs reading “Freedom is a constant struggle” and “Defend the Dream”, among others. They proceeded to walk through major streets on campus, heading north towards Monroe Avenue, back down to Jefferson Way and circling back to the Plaza.

The DACA program was established through an executive order from President Barack Obama in 2012, and allows certain individuals who came to the United States as children to request deferred action against them for a two year period, contingent on them meeting a list of qualifications, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s webpage. Students who have received aid from the DACA program are commonly referred to as DREAMers.

On Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, President Donald Trump and the U.S. Justice Department announced that the DACA program would be terminated in a six-month time period.

Narcio herself is a DREAMer and has worked through her college career both at Chemeketa Community College and OSU to provide support for DACA recipients who are now uncertain of what their future looks like. She participated in today’s walkout in order to raise awareness for DREAMers.

“We need to protect our DREAMers. These are people who have, like myself, been brought here to the US. They know the language, know the customs, grew up K-12 here, and there needs to be a solution to this because they are people just like everyone else,” Narcio said. “I speak the language, I do everything here—I love it here. I love the US, I love Oregon, I love Corvallis and Salem. I love it here. We need to do something for the DREAMers.”

The walkout was organized by a group called Here to Stay, which formed on campus around the beginning of fall term 2017. Narcio is a member of Here to Stay, and works with the group to provide support for undocumented students.

“We want to do more work with the passing of a clean DREAM Act and legislation to give relief for undocumented students who are DACA recipients,” Narcio said.

The call for a “clean” DREAM Act originated in early October when Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif) called on Congress in order to protect DACA recipients. A clean DREAM Act has gained traction nationally, according to Narcio.

Another purpose of today’s walkout was to raise awareness of the presence of undocumented students to Rep. Greg Walden for Oregon’s second congressional district, who is currently opposed to a new DREAM Act, according to Narcio.

“He (Walden) is very important to passing this legislation,” Narcio said. “He is currently not in vote for it, and so we are wanting to change his mind so he knows that there is a presence of undocumented students at Oregon State, and there is a presence in Portland State, U of O, there’s a presence of students at Chemeketa, Linn Benton and everywhere.”

Memorial Union President Angel Mandujano-Guevara was among the protesters. He joined the walkout to show his support for the passing of a clean DREAM Act.

“I personally decided to participate because my family has members that are DACA recipients and family members that are both near and dear to me that are documented and not,” Mandujano-Guevera said. “That’s why I’m coming out and marching for this today because it’s something that is close to my community.”

Tabitha Pitzer, a fourth year studying political science, was one individual involved with today’s protest. She supports DACA and DREAMers because she is an immigrant from South Africa.

“I’m in solidarity with the DREAMers movement and with DACA students because I do think that education is a right,” Pitzer said. “I do think that everyone should have access to it and the opportunities that can come with it.”

According to Pitzer, because her skin appears white and people interpret her as sounding American, she does not generally experience the racism and discrimination that can be held towards immigration in the United States.

“If I had anything to say to people, it’s just to really challenge the way that you think about immigration,” Pitzer said. “People aren’t coming here to steal your jobs or take your family, or your possessions, but really to better themselves and to come to a land of opportunities.”

According to Anna P., a junior studying education who was also in attendance of the clean DREAM Act protest, she feels strong connections to the DREAM Act due to personal relationships she has developed with DACA recipients while attending OSU.

“I think it’s really important to support a pathway to citizenship or a pathway to even being able to get a paper that says you have some rights,” P. said. “It doesn’t do anything to support the actual human dignity, but because of the society we live in, that paper is important for being able to go to school and being able to have a driver’s license and being able to live freely without fear.”

P. hopes that today’s protest centered around the clean DREAM Act will help educate the community and change their minds on the subject. P also encourages individuals who write

letters to local politicians in regards to the clean DREAM Act.

“If you get a chance, write a letter to Greg Walden,” P. said. “He is the representative in eastern Oregon if you’re passionate about the subject, because he has not supported the clean DREAM Act and we would love to get his support.”

In addition to student support, Veterans for Peace were also in attendance providing security on the outside edges the group of participants.

“We think that the movement that was made under the Obama administration was a very reasonable kind of rule giving these so-called DREAMers a permanent residence and a path towards citizenship,” Jim Spain, a member of Veterans for Peace, said.

According to Spain, him and the Veterans for Peace aim to eliminate conflict and increase peace.

“I think the whole atmosphere now at the national level is one of confrontation and anti-immigrants of all kinds,” Spain said. “Stronger borders, and I’m all for border control, but I don’t think the borders should be as porous as they are presently, but on the other hand, I think we should protect and support legal immigration, and we should provide a path to citizenship for the illegal or legal immigrants who are here and have a clean slate.”

To read more information about the local impact of the Trump administration’s rescinding of DACA, see the Baro’s Oct. 3, 2017 article: http://bit.ly/2hY7dQY