Daylon Bonner, Staff Writer
On the night of Friday, Sept. 22, nearly one-hundred fifty people gathered in front of the Student Union in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The Executive Order, created and implemented in 2012 by former President Barack Obama, was designed to give undocumented immigrants the opportunity to attain an identification card, go to school and join the workforce. Specifically, the program was designed to benefit immigrants who came to the United States as children and were not able to control the legality of their entrance into the country.
President Donald Trump has said that he plans to definitively put an end to the program. As a result, nearly all beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries have been left with little to no viable options that would allow them to stay in the country.
As a result, people across the country have stood in support of the Dreamers. With the rally on Friday, Savannah has joined the ranks as well.
The attendees of the rally ranged from Armstrong students and faculty to member of Savannah community. A Greek life presence was on hand as well, specifically Lambda Theta Phi and Sigma Iota Alpha. Furthermore, the event was plastered with a multitude of signs. Some expressed their dissatisfaction with blunt words while others took a more nuanced approach.
Sign slogans of note included “Education Not Deportation,” “Build Bridges Not Walls,” and “No Punishment for Decisions out of Their Hands.”
The rally was headlined by a selection of fascinating speeches; one detailing an emotional journey to get to the final stages of college and others delivered as a call to action.
According to Chris Lopez, a DACA recipient, “an official end to program will occur at some point in March 2018.”
With the end of this program, beneficiaries would no longer have a viable means to work given that the validity of their work permit would end.
As of now, the DACA program appears to be on the verge of cancellation. However, there are also rumblings that there is potential for a change to the program instead. As of now, the degree of the change is uncertain. Given that there does not seem to be a consensus as to how to proceed about the policy, a political unrest concerning the policy has continued to grow over the past few weeks. This feeling of discontent with the government loomed heavily over the rally.
This discontent was expressed by Daniella Rodriguez, one of the key organizers of the event. With the perceived political instability of the executive branch on full display and the ever-looming threat of DACA cancellation, her future at Armstrong is at best uncertain. There is a definite possibility that her efforts as a psychology major will have been in vain.
While the beneficiaries of the program obviously would not support the program being eradicated, some revisions to the Executive Order would not be opposed. Lopez would support the DACA becoming official legislation as opposed to simply being an executive order. Should this occur, the program would be legitimized and would require more just the signature of the President to terminate it.
As stated before, the main beneficiaries of DACA are undocumented immigrants who represent the upper echelon of said group. While having DACA recipients having phenomenal grades is commendable, a policy such as this does not account for immigrants who may not have the grades, but have a clear and apparent work ethic that more than make for a slightly lower academic standing. In other words, the program excludes those who are more than willing to earn the privileges that come with DACA, but may have the top tier grades of other DACA recipients. To paraphrase Rodriguez, immigrants who do receive the benefits inherently give the country a somewhat noble appearance. She would support a change to DACA that would allow for standards to be set in a manner permitting all who wish to receive the benefits to have access to them.
Unfortunately for the dreamers, a feasible alternative has not been presented. However, Lopez, Rodriguez, and others in their situation and in support of them intend to continue their struggle for access to the benefits of DACA. They have a Facebook page under the moniker La S.U.Y.A. and are making plans for events in the future.