Two University of Nebraska at Omaha sophomores showed support for DACA students despite dissidents within their own community.
Renata Valquier Chavez and Caelyn Armshaw organized a chalk drawing event on the “Free Speech Zone” with almost 30 other volunteers and wrote phrases such as “Dreamers Forever,” “People not politics” and “Dream on” on the cement.
“The American dream may vary among all of us, but we can all agree that America is our home,” said Chavez, an Honors Student Association representative and Arts & Sciences senator, the night of the event on Sept. 13.
Later that night, there was allegedly a person or group of people that attempted to brush it away.
“I hope that they understand we were using our First Amendment right just like anyone else would,” said Chavez.
The next morning, Chavez and Armshaw drew “our viewpoints cannot be erased” over one portion of the erased chalk.
“I would have much rather them come up to us personally and talked with us about the issue or come to the forum,” said Chavez. “They cannot strip us of our passions, our opinions or our viewpoints.”
Following the chalk drawing event, there was an informational forum open to the public on Sept. 14 at 5:30 p.m. in the Milo Bail Student Center. It was hosted by the Honors Student Association with guest speakers from the UNO Department of History, Department of Multicultural Affairs and Academic and Career Development Center.
More than 40 people attended the event, asking questions they had about DACA and how it affects the UNO community, discussing facts and opinions about immigration to the United States and sharing events and organizations that people can participate in to help DACA recipients.
“It was a good opportunity for everyone to sit down and really share ideas,” said Carlo Eby, student body president at UNO.
At the forum, students, citizens and the guest speakers shared various actions one could take to support DACA students in the Omaha community: volunteer and donate to the Heartland Workers Center, Lutheran Family Services, Young Nebraskans in Action, Nebraska Appleseed and the Refugee Empowerment Center; call representatives in Congress; follow the “UNO Supports DACA” Facebook page; and attend other similar public events that will be hosted at UNO.
“The purpose of this event was to inform the community about the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals and the Dreamer’s Act and I thought that that was fulfilled,” said Chavez after the forum.
Thomas Sanchez, an associate professor of sociology and Latino/ Latin American studies at UNO, will be presenting his research of the lives of 10 DACA students that he interviewed on Sept. 25 at 11:30 a.m. in the Milo Bail Student Center Ballroom. There will be an open forum with a guest speaker from Colorado State University, a researcher for the Dream Act and author of a book, about her research on Oct. 17 in the Alumni Center. The event is 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. 15t in the Milo Bail Student Center.
Lauren Houston, a junior who volunteered for the chalk event said, “These are people… this is their home.”