Students, faculty and administrators stood in solidarity on the Arts Quad to defend immigrants and demand justice in light of President Donald Trump’s decision Tuesday to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The rally began with a series of chants about defending immigrants and demanding justice in the system. Organizers from the Dream Team also handed out butterfly figures — a symbol of migration and the resilience of immigrants.
Following the chants, six speakers representing students, professors and professionals spoke about the implications of the removal of DACA.
Carolina Osorio-Gil ’05, Latina/o Studies Engagement Coordinator and District 3 candidate, shared her story as an immigrant and urged students to get involved in local politics in order to fight injustice and insisted that immigrants should have a place in the U.S.
“Here we are fighting for our DACA brothers and sisters, and I stand in full support of you,” Osorio-Gil said. “I was undocumented, and I am the same person. I believe no human being is illegal.”
The speakers went on to emphasize that the criminalization of immigrants has serious social implications that is manifested in a variety of ways. They also commented that without DACA, many students who have been receiving financial aid at universities like Cornell based on their DACA status will be in need of help.
Prof. Russell Rickford, history, pointed out that “sometimes up here on the hill we wind up alienated from ourselves and from our roots.”
He then urged the crowd to see every citizen as equal and united. Rickford led the crowd in a heated chant — “We have a duty to fight for our freedom. We have a duty to win. We must love each other and protect each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” The chant progressively got louder.
Following the impassioned yells, Rickford more solemnly directed his attention toward explanations of the current political strife.
“The system cannot function without defining certain people as outsiders,” Rickford said. “The assault on immigrants and undocumented people has become a far more visible aspect of what I call the racial hunt.”
The attendants of the rally responded to impassioned statements with snaps and yells of agreement.
Nicole Garcia ’20 participated in the rally because she has friends and family members who are in the U.S. because of DACA. Garcia said that having the rally on Cornell’s campus is encouraging but a more open dialogue needs to start.
“I feel like there’s a lot less understanding because there are a lot of people who are not open minded and are kind of just like ‘they’re immigrants, so get them out’ and that’s not how anyone should look at this, especially since we’re all people,” Garcia said. “People need to ask more questions about things they don’t understand. I feel like that’s the main issue in the dialogue surrounding this whole situation. People don’t know so instead of asking they’re just attacking.”
Following the speakers, there was a call to support the Dreamers Act, a legislative bill that would provide full protection to undocumented immigrants who came here as children. The Dream Team was also passing out information packets for undocumented students.
The rally came to a passionate close as the participants chanted in solidarity “Dreamers stay, dreamers fight, education is a right.”