Protesters at Rutgers support clean Dream Act, march from College Avenue to Douglass
They did not stop until they reached the Douglass Student Center
Yesterday was not the day undocumented students and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients might have expected.
The date that many associated with the termination of the DACA program and its approximately 690,000 recipients, instead brought forth members from a multitude of activist organizations on campus and all across New Jersey at Rutgers.
“No DREAM Deferred: NJ Statewide Day of Action” took to Rutgers—Newark, Rutgers—Camden and to a number of New Jersey congressional representative offices before meeting at New Brunswick to demand a Dream Act that does not criminalize communities and separate families, .
The protest started at 5 p.m., and representatives from a few of the organizations sponsoring the event gave their remarks before the group took to the streets. After which, they walked down College Avenue, leading the charge with banners that read “NODEFEREDDREAMERS” and “#HERETOSTAY.”
The march ran down underneath the New Brunswick Amtrak and did not stop until it reached the front of the Douglass Student Center.
Sergio Abreu, president of UndocuRutgers and a School of Engineering senior, said the event began around 11 a.m. at Rutgers—Newark and ended at Rutgers—New Brunswick for the largest demonstration of the day.
Ever since two federal judges, one in New York and one in California, filed injunctions against President Donald J. Trump’s wind-down of the DACA program nearing his March 5 expiration date, a deadline for Congress to agree on a solution for the program, speculation has ensued over the future of DACA DREAMers.
Abreu said the extended deadline helps the group's current recipients whose protections will not be expiring — so long as they can continue to apply for renewal. It also pushes back the date that they need to act by, but is in no way less incentivizing to their ongoing efforts.
“That doesn’t mean that this issue is any less relevant or less urgent cause any day now that court decision can be overturned,” he said.
While the organization is conscious of other noteworthy issues, it is focused on keeping its issues relevant and present in the media.
Even though the March 5 deadline would not have terminated protections issued to every DACA recipient, it marked the start of a process that has slowly left those enrolled in the program without protection since Sept. 5, 2017 — the date Trump effectively terminated new enrollment, according to Vox.
“To hear my fellow DACA recipients say 'I’m scared they’re going to deport me, I’m done, I want to give up' is kind of like motivating,” said Cinthia Osorio, a community organizer for Wind of the Spirit. “That reminding them in a way, with the help of the other organizations, that once we work together, once we're always out there in the media we have to be alive at all times because the moment we stop talking about it is the same moment that they’re going to not care about us.”
As an immigration resource center located in Morristown, New Jersey, Wind of the Spirit worked alongside many of the organizations present to help spread awareness that even though the March 5 deadline is no longer present there is still an ongoing effort to fight for a clean Dream Act and a pathway to citizenship, Osorio said.
“Right now there’s a lot of legislation focusing around DACA, and it’s not clean, meaning that there’s money being used towards a wall, militarizing ICE gear, mass deportations and we don’t want to separate families so our message today is dream deferred because our dream is being deferred once again,” she said.
University spokesperson Dory Devlin said that University President Robert L. Barchi and Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D-N.J.) administration are unified in their desire to solidify protections offered under the DACA program, according to an email to The Daily Targum.
“Rutgers was one of the first institutions in the country to engage on the DACA issue and remains a national leader,” Devlin said. “President Barchi has led the grassroots effort that has generated more than 33,000 letters to Congress advocating for a legislative solution to the DACA dilemma and will continue to join those advocacy efforts.”
Editor's note: An earlier version of this article which read "Ever since Congress overturned President Donald J. Trump’s DACA expiration date on March 5, a deadline for Congress to agree on a solution for the program, speculation has ensued over the future of DACA DREAMers" has been updated to better reflect the status of the DACA program.