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September 7, 2017
Dozens protested by the federal courthouse in downtown Fresno in response to President Trump’s decision to repeal the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals program on Sept. 5.
Chants from the protestors included, “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here,” and “When I say DACA, you say power!” as they voiced their disapproval to the latest development from the Trump administration.
DACA was implemented in 2012 by the Obama administration and allowed undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors a renewable two-year period of deferred action from potential deportation and eligibility for a work permit.
Since it was implemented, about 800,000 undocumented immigrants have been protected by DACA.
Photo by: Ram Reyes
Although the gathering was slight in comparison to other protests around the country, speakers at the event voiced their concerns for DACA recipients in the Central Valley and beyond.
Fresno City Council members Esmeralda Soria and Oliver Baines spoke at the protest, expressing solidarity with DACA recipients and the local immigrant communities.
Soria stated that hearing Trump’s decision that morning impacted her personally.
“We have lawyers, teachers, nurses, doctors, business owners, community organizers, students and children that are DACA recipients,” said Soria. “Locally, we will continue to ensure that policies protect our immigrant community.”
Baines stated that the crowd size at the gathering should have been larger, citing the impact of the DACA decision has in the Central Valley.
“We should have this place full back to Ventura Boulevard right now because this is the civil rights fight of our day,” said Baines. “We need comprehensive immigration reform.”
Jimmy Collier, a local activist who worked with Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s echoed Baines’ sentiments regarding civil rights for undocumented immigrants.
“I will tell you that the King is not dead,” said Collier. “I’m not a dreamer, but I look to a man who had a dream, and that dream is everyone has to be treated with dignity, justice and fairness.”
Photo by: Ram Reyes
Some of DACA’s recipients comprise of students attending college in the Central Valley.
Yessenia Vasquez, a DACA recipient who attends College of the Sequoias in Visalia, was present at the protest.
“I am a dreamer, and I believe that we deserve some things more than DACA because obviously, DACA is not protecting us anymore,” Vasquez said. “Recipients can eventually lose their job, and it’s going to be harder for them to attend college with no work and losing their financial aid.”
Brisa Cruz, a representative from the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, spoke at the event as a fellow DACA recipient and graduate from Fresno State.
“We come together at this moment because we knew that this was going to happen,” Cruz said. “I just want to reiterate that this does not end here. There should be a wake up call for everyone.”
Maricela Gutierrez, executive director of the Services Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN), criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ statement that called DACA unlawful.
“Shame on his office for caving so easily,” Gutierrez stated. “We will support national efforts to challenge this faulty assertion at the courts.”