Students, staff and faculty gathered together on the University of New Mexico’s Main Campus and marched Tuesday morning in an act of solidarity for fellow immigrant community members.
After a weekend of rumors, President Donald Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program early Tuesday morning. DACA was implemented under the Obama administration and gives its recipients refuge from deportation and the ability to work in the United States.
The deconstruction of the program will impact roughly 800,000 youth immigrants, approximately 8,000 of which are New Mexico residents eligible for DACA — 6,815 of the residents are already DACA beneficiaries.
“(Keeping DACA) means keeping jobs so they can afford to pay whatever scholarships don’t cover in terms of tuition, paying for books, food, clothing, housing while they are going to school,” said UNM assistant professor Cristyn Elder. “It means being here with documentation that allows them to enroll.”
UNM’s campus gathering elicited emotional responses from some students and faculty that joined in.
“It doesn’t affect me directly, nor people that I know personally, or family members, but to think that this is just a pure fortune of circumstance that I don’t find myself in that situation, is really humbling, upsetting and troubling at the same time,” said Kurt Escobar, teaching assistant for the Exercise Science Department at UNM. “The fact that I’m coming from immigrant grandparents, undocumented, is really resonating in a way that I did not imagine it to at all.”
The New Mexico Dream Team, a group that has been organizing and carrying out rallies in protest against President Trump’s decision, led the march through UNM’s campus as well as high school campuses statewide.
More than 1,500 high school students gathered on their campuses Tuesday afternoon in protest of Trump’s decision, according to the New Mexico Dream Team organizers. Some students marched through Downtown Albuquerque, escorted by teachers and gathered at Civic Plaza.
Speakers were emotional as they retold their personal stories of coming to the U.S. as young children, struggles they have faced and the relief they gained with the enactment of DACA.
Trump’s decision has left students like Wendy De La Cruz at a loss.
“We all learned to love this country, so why can’t this country learn to love us?” De La Cruz said through tears. She is a CNM student and leader for the New Mexico DreamTeam.
Patricia Roybal Caballero, a New Mexico State Representative and UNM alum wanted UNM to know there are resources available.
“There is a tremendous network of support out there,” Caballero said. “It’s a know-your-right network. There’s information being offered through the United We Dream Organization. In Spanish and English, they are offering steps in how families can protect themselves should certain things occur.”
UNM Medical Student Yazmin Irazoqui Ruiz, a representative of the New Mexico Dream Team and a DACA recipient herself, was grateful to the UNM students that banded together Tuesday.
“I would like to thank the students that showed up in support and the faculty and the leadership that came out to support us,” Ruiz said. “Today we saw the community come together and we saw people stand on the right side of history, and I would like to thank everyone for the support.”
The Associated Students of UNM passed a resolution to support UNM’s undocumented students. This resolution sees no separation between the benefits awarded to students that are state citizens and those that are undocumented. This is constituted by the $66.3 million that undocumented immigrants pay in local taxes per year, according to ASUNM’s release.
A memorandum sent out by UNM’s interim president, Chaouki Abdallah, also addresses the resources available. A new website will offer information for the admissions process from enrollment to access to financial aid, as well as legal support.
Alison Luttrell is a culture reporter with the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @Luttrell_Ali.