As of Friday, November 17, 2017
Chanting slogans in support of immigrants and a “clean Dream act,” a student-organized protest with some 65 participants marched from the west business district to the courthouse steps Thursday afternoon.
“Dreamers” are immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. President Obama signed an executive order giving them a legal means to avoid deportation. In September, President Trump announced he would end the program.
Some proposals to continue the program, formally called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, also contain requirements to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
A “clean Dream act” is defined as a stand-alone act without any mention of other issues, such as the border wall.
Luis Maldonado, a student at The Dalles High School, spoke at the courthouse rally, saying when his student club was asked who wanted to give a speech on how they felt about the cancellation of DACA, “Nobody raised their hand, but why is that?”
“Why stay silent when it’s a movement that has impacted millions of Dreamers who have had the power to fulfill and pursue their dreams and lifelong aspirations. It’s a voice for those who feel as though they are powerless.”
About 800,000 people have registered under DACA, including 11,280 in Oregon.
Maldonado said DACA allowed young immigrants to work and study without fear of deportation. “Imagine that. It’s called freedom and justice for all.”
Ending DACA “has destroyed thousands of unpursued dreams.” he said, “We, as the people, need to bring DACA back, and that’ll make America great again.”
Martha Verduzco, president of the Hood River Latino Network, led chants of “Undocumented? Unafraid. Transqueer? Unashamed.”
She urged the crowd to contact U.S. Rep. Greg Walden to ask that a clean Dream Act be passed. She said immigrants are critical to the economy. “We contribute, we participate and we are members of this community,” she said. “We can make the change, but we have to vote.”
Michael Byrne, a Democrat running to unseat Walden, told immigrants, they were valued, needed, loved and “we will stand together… Thank you all for being here; today, tomorrow and forever.”
Solea Kabakov, a leader of the group protesting the holding of federal immigration detainees at the regional jail in The Dalles, told immigrants, “You have allies. We are everywhere. We are listening, we are watching and we are fighting for your rights.”
TDHS junior Yajaira Alvarez told the Chronicle after the rally, “I am protesting against the removal of DACA. I just want people to be aware of what’s going on and I want the whole community to come together to support the cause. We all want everybody to have the same education. We deserve it.”
Junior Teresa Esiquio, who organized the protest, told the Chronicle, “We need to pressure Congress to pass the new Dream Act because this is affecting 800,000 Dreamers who came here” with their families, and not of their own volition.
She said they have strived to better themselves and have become successful. “We need people that are willing to make our country a better place and by passing a new Dream Act we can achieve that.”