Following the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, students organized on the Main Green to call Congressional representatives, demanding the passage of a revised DREAM Act, and raise awareness of the issues facing undocumented immigrants in the United States.
Angel Mendez ’20, a member of Brown Immigrant Rights Coalition, said that the event was “part of a national effort” with over 100 colleges holding similar events.
Mendez also said that BIRC aims for Congress to pass a “clean” DREAM Act, which would provide Dreamers with a path to citizenship without implementing harsher immigration policies or criminalizing their parents.
“A lot of the (introduced) legislation … contains … a path to citizenship for DACA-mented students, but (they) also contain more restrictions on the border,” Mendez said, adding that policies like these further emphasized the need for a clean DREAM Act.
Gabrielle Martinez ’20 said that she felt the current form of the DREAM Act would create “weird barriers for immigrants and still break up a lot of families.”
She criticized legislation sponsored by Dick Durbin, D-I.L., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., that would grant permanent legal status to individuals who arrived to the United States before turning 18, as well as the Republican proposal, which would not sponsor the families of protected children in receiving green cards. “How do you expect them to come in (to the United States) without their parents or their family? Why are you still trying to separate families?” she said.
Durbin and Graham’s DREAM Act would only give legal status to individuals provided they pass security checks and fulfill certain criteria like employment, military participation and education level.
Martinez argued that treating minors with dignity and humanity shouldn’t be contingent on them being productive members of the United States economy.
Mendez said that while he was happy to see that the event received “a lot of involvement from the Brown community,” he felt that they should have seen “the entire student body coming in.”
He stressed that the University should support the entire immigrant community in the United States, as well as “the students who are here at Brown who might lose their legal status, they might lose their opportunity to come to Brown, they might lose their financial aid from the University” as a result of the decision to roll back DACA.
Because Dreamers would lose their ability to work after DACA expires, Mendez said he hoped the University would “create a fund or fellowship where students are able to get the money” they would have ordinarily earned from their jobs as campus employees.
Pazia Bermudez-Silverman ’20 said she came to the event as a Latina student to support other Latinos who may be undocumented.
“It’s important for all of us at Brown to stick together. Why should one person have privilege over another just because they were born here or their parents were born here? … We’re all (on this campus). We all are equal, … and we all deserve to be here,” she added.
“Everyone in this country, except for Native Americans, came from a different place,” Mendez said. “At the end of the day, we’re all immigrants.”