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Students organize candlelight vigil for DREAM Act

ASU student organizations and community members held a candlelight vigil for the DREAM Act following government shutdown


Cinthia Estela, District 7 Phoenix City Council candidate, speaks to DACA supporters outside the Republican Party headquarters at the candlelight vigil in Phoenix, Arizona on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018.

Students with the Undocumented Students for Education Equity and the Arizona Dream Act Coalition held a candlelight vigil for the DREAM Act outside the Arizona Republican Party headquarters in Phoenix on Jan. 22. The vigil was held to "mourn" the loss of a potential DREAM Act when Congress failed to pass a federal spending bill that included a legislative solution for DACA recipients, shutting down the government on Saturday.

The vigil came a week after a similar protest outside the Arizona Democratic Party headquarters.

Many demonstrators at both events hoped that a spending bill that protected those with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status would pass.

Since the rescission of DACA was announced, individuals under the program and their supporters have advocated for a "clean" DREAM Act, a bill that would give a pathway to citizenship for those in the program without any extra funding for a border wall or similar measures. That push for the bill carried on last night, where vigil attendees were met by counter-protestors who called for ending DACA and deporting DACA recipients.

"We want permanent solutions and to make sure that those solutions do not include any further enforcement in our communities," said Edder Martinez, a journalism senior and DACA recipient. "We've already seen thousands of deportations. These people are our families, our brothers, sisters, moms or dads. That means families are being separated." 

One of the USEE demonstrators, Oscar Hernandez, a public policy senior and DACA recipient,  said he was frustrated with the lack of progress and that he wants to see both Republicans and Democrats come together to aid DACA recipients.

"We are disappointed ... in the Democrats because they went as far as shutting down the government," Hernandez said. "And then they bring back the government without a DREAM Act, without an actual promise to help us. It's a little disappointing because they're creating this division between parties ... we're (protesting) to regain hope and bring our community together."

Although the DREAM Act isn't "dead," Martinez said that the vigil was meant to mourn the loss of an opportunity to find a solution.

"It was originally meant to be a time to reflect and process the events of the weekend, and it turned into more of a rally due to the counter-protestors," Martinez said. "This group does not welcome immigrants."

Some said they would be willing to compromise if it meant finding a solution sooner, if at all. Ruby Rivera, an applied biological sciences senior and a DACA recipient, emphasized the importance of Congress passing a DREAM act quickly to protect DACA recipients. 

Although she feels the issue deserves a sense of urgency, she said DACA recipients and the immigrant community should be willing to compromise.

"They need to come up with a bipartisan DREAM Act, hopefully a clean DREAM Act but at this point I would be okay with just a DREAM Act," she said.

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