FCC Student Organizes DACA Protest and Hundreds March through Tower
September 18, 2017
A few hundred people marched across Fresno’s Tower District to defend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on Sept. 17 in response to President Trump’s announcement on Sept. 5 that he is phasing out the program.
A lively crowd of people, equipped with just their signs and their voices, started the march from the corners of Olive and Palm avenues and made their way across the Tower District lasting an hour.
Sophia Bautista, a FCC student and political science major, is the organizer of the event. Her own reason in organizing the event was motivated by a personal connection to the issue.
“One of my closest friends a DACA beneficiary and in all of our years of friendship, which was a really long time, I had no idea until 3 months ago,” Bautista said. “I was guided by a sense of political objective anger and now it turned into a much more personal and intimate thing.”
Many of the marchers had other reasons for turning out. One of them is of the fear of losing their family.
“My brothers, my sisters, they’re on DACA,” Luz Castillo said. “If I lose them, I lose my family.”
Genesis Parra, a high school student, turned out in support of her Latin heritage. She said DACA’s end affects mostly Mexican people, and more importantly, it affects her family.
Immigrants from Mexico and other Central American countries top the lists of DACA recipients, according to the most recent U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services data. California is also home to the most recipients.
Many of Parra’s classmates are DACA recipients.
“I see other students who are under DACA and that go to my school,” Parra said, “and I saw how they had improved their lives. They learned how to speak english and a lot of things that they weren’t able to do when they got here.”
Mike Yates, a middle school counselor for the Fresno High area, came out to give voice to his students and friends who were too afraid for their safety.
“DACA affects a lot of my families and a lot of my students. I have friends that are important to me that can’t be out here because they are scared to be,” Yates said. “I feel like I need to be out here to represent them and to be able to give them a voice on their behalf.”
Even within Fresno City College there are close to a thousand DACA recipients. FCC President Carole Goldsmith turned out in support of those students.
“Depending on what matrix you use, perhaps more than a thousand are DACA or eligible for DACA,” Goldsmith said. “They’re scared and fearful and I want them to know I’m here for them.”
Despite the variety of reasons, marchers wanted the same thing: They want DACA to stay.
Bautista, the organizer, thinks the best way for people to help is to call their state representatives and urge them to aid DACA. She also urges for more participation in local politics.
“Elect progressive leaders here in Fresno,” Bautista said. “A lot of people pay attention to national politics but not nearly as much as local.”
Bautista hopes the march would spark action in those just passing by and observing. She said her job was to make these issues visible, start a conversation and hopefully elicit action.
“We’re not here to curse the darkness,” Bautista said, “but to light the candle to a better future.”