On Nov. 9, people across the United States will step out in support of those at risk of deportation now that the fate of nearly a million eligible undocumented immigrants is in jeopardy. The University of Miami College Democrats will be taking part in that movement by hosting Defend DACA: Two Months Without a Dream, an event to educate the community about immigration policies in the United States.
The event will serve as an opportunity for students to learn about issues and misconceptions surrounding immigration, UM College Democrats President Angelica Duque said.
It’s been two months since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced President Donald Trump’s intent to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an immigration policy that provides legal protection to undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children. Former President Barack Obama enacted the policy in 2012.
More than 800,000 are currently protected under the program, according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
For Duque, a junior majoring in political science, the topic of immigration is one that hits close to home. She is a Colombian-American born to two immigrants in New York. Duque, who supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, said Trump’s decision to roll back the DACA program is something she was scared would affect her loved ones.
“A lot of my friends that are my age are first generation, second generation or just moved here and are undocumented, so it’s something that really affects them,” Duque said.
According to a 2015 report from the Migration Policy Institute, 156,000 undocumented immigrants live in Miami-Dade County.
Executive Vice President and Provost Jeffrey Duerk said UM would do everything it could “within the law” to help any student impacted by the administration’s decision.
“Not only is it the right thing to do,” said Duerk at a student media roundtable in October. “It’s the humanitarian thing to do. And when I think of what’s one of the biggest responsibilities I have, I think it comes down to one word: talent … I don’t care where in the world those students come from. I don’t care where in the world the faculty come from. I just want the best.”
For more than two weeks, Duque said she has been hard at work trying to make the DACA event happen. She said because of UM policies prohibiting unregistered demonstrations, the event will be more of a tabling event where students will have the chance to hear immigration stories, write to or call their representatives and learn about other immigration policies the Trump administration has stood against, including the extension of Temporary Protected Status and the preservation of “sanctuary cities.”
The Trump administration has been firm on its intent to minimize illegal immigration and maximize deportation. In January 2017, Trump announced an executive order requiring state and local authorities to comply with and enforce federal statutes, including detaining undocumented immigrants.
Last month, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would not renew TPS, a program designed to help people from other countries seek refuge in the United States. The program has been mainly designated to foreigners from Caribbean and Central American countries, including in Haiti and Nicaragua, that have been ravaged by natural disasters. The program’s termination would impact an estimated 300,000 people, including the large Haitian population in South Florida.
Duque called Trump’s executive actions and positions “blatant acts of discrimination.” She said she hopes the event debunks myths surrounding immigration and encourages engagement.
“If you don’t like what’s happening and want to make a change, step up,” she said. “Now is the time.”
Students interested in submitting their immigration narratives can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions will remain anonymous.
Defend DACA: Two Months Without a Dream will be on Nov. 9 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Rock Plaza.
Featured photo courtesy Flickr user Molly Adams.