Children of undocumented immigrants who moved to the U.S. with their families at a young age, known as Dreamers, have worked diligently to gain legal protections and respect in their communities. But the broader student body of ASU still lacks an awareness and understanding of the struggle of these students.
This was on display in the recent protests on ASU's Tempe campus in which immigrant rights activists and other students got together to protest the presence of U.S. Customs and Border Protection enforcement agents at a recruiting event and to show solidarity for the students at the University of Arizona who were arrested following a similar protest in Tucson.
Although those students got together to share their beliefs and take a stand, there’s still more than what meets the eye. One student, Denis Alvarez, advocacy director of Undocumented Students for Educational Equity, said that some students observing the protests hurled insults and used inappropriate language to demean the protestors.
“With the most recent thing that happened, we had a lot of the student body just look at us and say inappropriate names,” Alvarez said. “We need the backing of our administration in order to let these students know that we are protected, and that we belong here in school.”
Dreamers, who are recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, already face barriers such as tuition struggles, difficulty with getting work permits and fear of deportation — they should not have to worry about having their voices silenced by fellow students in addition to these existing risks.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are 26,100 DACA recipients in the state of Arizona as of 2018. With such a high number, it is vital that the ASU and surrounding communities create a safe and welcoming environment for these students, especially with the constant chaos and legal battles surrounding DACA under the administration of President Donald Trump.
Many of these students are in limbo, as the administration stopped processing new DACA applications.
With the 2020 presidential election just around the corner, the future of DACA students lies in the hands of our next president, and the main hope for DACA students in this election is to have a Dream Act that offers a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients without funding further immigration enforcement.
These young immigrants play a big part in our community as students, workers, and taxpayers, which is why it is crucial the community provides them with a safe environment where they can freely express themselves — even in protest.
Although I am not a DACA student, I acknowledge and see the continuous issues that those students undergo. The community should embrace all perspectives in order to create a safe environment.
The beauty of America lies in our diversity, which is why it is vital to bring attention to the voices and additional perspectives of DACA students.
No voice should be silenced from the fear of judgement.
Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
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