The Latina/o Student Assembly organized a protest on Thursday night next to Tommy Trojan in defense of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era immigration policy which guaranteed temporary legal status to undocumented childhood arrivals.
Hundreds of students came out to voice their opposition to President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind the policy. The protesters wielded posters with messages such as “Resist” and “Defend DACA.”
Karen García, executive director of the LSA, galvanized the audience early with some chants. She shouted, “When DACA is under attack, what do we do?” The crowd responded, “Stand up, fight back!” Later in the rally, the crowd excitedly cheered “Sí se puede,” the Spanish equivalent of “Yes, it is possible,” or “Yes, we can.”
García offered other words of encouragement and advice.
“I hope everyone is just as outraged as I am,” García said. “We are going to fight. We are going to stand up together and do this with you … Passivity is not an option.”
Jesus Carreon, a freshman studying law, history and culture, is a DACA recipient and member of the LSA.
He explained how important DACA is to the Southern California community.
“People don’t quite get how much DACA means to us,” Carreon said. “DACA is our source of income, in a way, because those are our work permits.”
Carreon said that without DACA, undocumented California residents will have to pay out-of-state tuition to University of California schools should they choose to attend one, and would no longer be entitled to many government benefits and forms of assistance.
García said that many fellow LSA members have been affected by the recent DACA decision.
“At our LSA meeting on Tuesday we opened up with a couple questions like: ‘Who’s first gen[eration]? Who’s a child of immigrants?’” García said. “One of the last questions was: ‘How many of you are affected or know someone who is affected by the DACA program?’ And everyone raised their hands.”
García also praised Undergraduate Student Government for passing a proposal earlier this week allocating $10,000 to help students pay for their DACA renewal fees.
“I’m actually really proud of USG for being so reactive to the situation,” García said. “The fact that the decision was announced on Tuesday [by Trump] and USG voted to allocate $10,000 that same day represents a huge step for USG … I am very much proud to be a part of USG this year.”
Senior Cindy Cox, an assistant director for LSA, also praised USG’s action in support of DACA recipients.
“I think it was really powerful,” Cox said. “USG is supposed to represent the student body and that’s exactly what they’re doing.”
García added that in the uncertain political climate, LSA’s goal will remain the same: to give a voice to those who need one.
“LSA is committed to representing underrepresented communities,” García said. “I definitely do encourage anyone to come out to LSA meetings and reach out to us, either me or Cindy. We will do anything in our power to help them out.”
While García applauded USG’s funding of DACA students, she also said that it should serve as a first step toward more support for DACA students.
“This is a good start but we need to keep pushing,” García said. “And we need to look for other resources for assistance.
Cox said she hopes the support for DACA students will continue and grow at USC.
“I think this was a wake-up call for the University,” Cox said.