They came from classrooms, dining halls and libraries. From jobs in the Village, administrative offices and faculty spaces, 500 people flocked to the steps outside Pomona College’s Frary Dining Hall midday Tuesday, facing a podium flanked by signs reading “Home is here” and “Protect the DREAM.”
On the same day the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that will decide the fate of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, 5C students, professors and Claremont community members gathered to support undocumented and DACAmented students, just one display of the nationwide “Home is Here” series of walkouts to protest the Trump administration’s assault on the DACA porgram.
A group of Chicanx Latinx Studies professors and student activists from across the 5Cs stood atop the steps, leading chants and speaking to the large crowd below.
Carla Condori Bazan PZ ’20 opened the event, leading a call-and-response.
“Home is here!” she yelled.
“Protect the dream!” hundreds responded, waving signs in the air enthusiastically.
“I feel like organizing events like this and just bringing people together, seeing numbers and seeing the support that undocumented students are having on campus is super important,” Condori Bazan said in an interview with TSL before the rally. “Nationally and historically … [administrations] abuse [and] subjugate migrants and put them on a level such that they’re less than any American.”
Under the Obama-era DACA policy, nearly 800,000 people who came to the U.S. illegally as children were given protection from deportation, according to data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Two years ago, President Donald Trump moved to end the program.
Three appeals courts have sided against the administration in challenges to Trump’s decision so far, according to The Hill.
The Supreme Court will release its decision on the program’s fate before its term ends in June 2020, but it’s plausible its conservative majority could side with Trump, according to The New York Times.
Pomona, Claremont McKenna College, Claremont Graduate University and 162 other educational institutions filed a brief to the Supreme Court defending DACA on Oct. 4.
One of Condori Bazan’s primary goals, she said, is for all 5Cs to become sanctuary schools.
“It’s really important to see other people gathering for something like this, to internalize it. … To show up for the community, for people here at the colleges and in the greater area.” — Jojo Sanders SC ’20
Though only Scripps College and Pitzer College have declared themselves to be sanctuary schools — all 5Cs have said they will refuse to comply with federal requests for information about students’ immigration status or to permit immigration enforcement activities on campus unless legally required to by court order, according to previous TSL coverage.
“We need to rise up and make our voices heard,” said Scripps professor and chair of the intercollegiate department of Chicanx-Latinx studies Rita Cano Alcala, who attended the event. “We can’t give in and be overwhelmed. It’s very hard not to be. But I think that coming together and feeling the energy and the solidarity helps us to hope that together, we can bring about change.”
Jojo Sanders SC ’20, another attendee, emphasized the significance of these types of events.
“It’s really important to see other people gathering for something like this, to internalize it. … To show up for the community, for people here at the colleges and in the greater area,” she said.
Gilda Ochoa, a Pomona professor of Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies and speaker at the rally, condemned what she called a long history of immigrant exploitation in America.
“We know this as the revolving door policy of the state … it has served the economic interests of the power elite. They have adamantly recruited workers from Mexico in the 1920s and 1940s and the 1970s,” she said to the protesters. “And yet when there have been economic downturns, we know there’s a massive, blatant scapegoating of immigrants and further deportation.”
Call-and-response chants of “No DACA,” with the crowds calling out “No peace” were ringing in the ears of advocates, along with shouts of “undocumented and unafraid,” led by student organizer Esteban Mogollon PZ ’22.
“You remember those words when you leave today,” Mogollon said.
Pomona President G. Gabrielle Starr attended the rally, sitting on the steps with a cohort of students and administrators, quietly watching speakers as they addressed the crowd.
“For everyone in our community affected by the ongoing uncertainty over DACA: We support you and we stand with you,” she said in a statement to the Pomona community last week. “In the quest for true social justice, the Dreamers’ struggle epitomizes the highest aspirations and ideals of our nation. We must keep pressing for action on this urgent issue affecting hundreds of thousands of young people.”
The Immigrants Rights Coalition, a group of Claremont students supporting refugees and asylum seekers, started a GoFundMe on Sunday to help undocumented students and DACAmented students — who are ineligible for federal student aid — pay for tuition, textbooks and other living expenses. The fund had raised more than $1,700 as of Wednesday night.