Dozens of University of Nebraska at Omaha students waged a march and protest across two of UNO’s campuses on Thursday against the recent announcement that DACA will be rescinded by the Trump administration.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is an Obamaera executive order that grants temporary legal status for young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, typically referred to as “Dreamers.” In addition to temporary legal status, Dreamers can receive work permits and driver’s licenses.
Sarah Hawkins, a UNO student and one of the organizers of the event, said the goal was to “express allyship and action against the recently released statements jeopardizing DACA and Dreamers. As a student body, we wanted to show our solidarity, support and engage.”
Beginning at 9 a.m, students marched from Mammel Hall on the Scott Campus, through Elmwood Park, to the Milo Bail Student Center on the Dodge Campus chanting, “No hate! No fear! Everyone is welcome here!” while holding signs with messages supportive of DACA.
“We wanted people to open their eyes and to stop and take a look at what was going on around them,” said event organizer and UNO student Madi Kleinschmit. “You have a different perspective when you’re the ones that people choose to ignore and walk past, and I think that’s how a lot of our Dreamers feel in a time like this.”
Once at the Dodge Campus, an hours-long protest began with chanting and chalking phrases such as “Support our Dreamers” and “Dreamers Make America Great.”
The event lasted until about 1 p.m.
“I am in no position to speak for a Dreamer, or even a non-Dreamer, but I will choose to stand beside them and do the best that I can to make sure their voices are heard,” said Kleinschmit.
On Sept. 5, 2017 Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a statement that the Trump administration will sunset DACA on March 5, 2018, citing constitutional and job security issues for Americans.
To replace DACA, Congress would need to pass a bill that they have not been able to get through for 16 years: The Dreamer’s Act.
The Dreamer’s Act is similar to DACA, except it would be enacted through the legislature rather than through the executive order. Additionally, it would provide a path to citizenship for Dreamer’s – something DACA lacks.
Dreamers pay taxes, including income taxes, but they are not eligible for government benefits such as Social Security, Medicaid or welfare. Students are not eligible for any federal aid such as grants or loans.
The UNO community is hosting several events to inform students about DACA. On Oct. 17 in the Alumni Center, there will be an open forum with a guest speaker from Colorado State University who is a researcher for the Dream Act and author of a book about her research, an event organized by the UNO Department of Multicultural Affairs. There will also be local and state legislators, attorneys and community organizations at the event.
Dr. Sarah Lopez, an immigration researcher from the University of Texas-Austin, will be at an event sponsored by the UNO History Department on Nov. 15 in the Milo Bail Student Center.
“Being informed, as well as being involved, is essential to supporting Dreamers,” Kleinschmit explained.
“If you want to change something you have to be willing to be a part of the conversation, furthermore, the movement,” said Kleinschmit. “As students of a university that stands beside Dreamers, that’s exactly what we intend to do.”