Students from a broad array of progressive groups on campus came together to rally behind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy on a Day of Action on Nov. 10.
“Today is about two things: One, showing Princeton students that they have the capacity to effect change as citizens and individuals, and two, supporting our fellow DACA students who are directly affected by the current administration’s attempts at terminating the program,” said Diego Negrón-Reichard ’18, treasurer of the Princeton Advocates for Justice. “This current political time demands active engagement.”
The event was hosted by PAJ and many partners, including the Asian American Students Association, Princeton DREAM Team, the Whig Party, Princeton Latinos y Amigos, and several others.
The event was held in response to the Trump Administration’s Sept. 5 to end the Obama-era program, which shields young, undocumented children of immigrants to the United States from deportation. The University and its affiliates in support of DACA soon after the decision was made and responded promptly, including with a by President Eisgruber urging Congress to pass legislation to protect undocumented immigrants. The University itself is the administration to preserve DACA, and explicitly promoted the Day of Action on its media.
Following PAJ’s model from last year, students gathered in Frist 302 for the event and were given a variety of ways through which to contact their representatives in Congress. Students could write letters, personally call and leave a message, or email their Congress members directly. Students were given sample scripts and contact information so that they could clearly and succinctly convey their beliefs to their representatives.
“What I hope people realize is how dehumanizing the current climate has been in regards to not only DREAMers but other undocumented immigrants and refugees,” said María José Solorzano ’20, co-president of the Princeton DREAM team. “The xenophobic rhetoric has blinded us from really looking at what America’s true values are, trying to make a better opportunity for the immigrants that come.”
The event was for more than just students, however. Faculty, staff, alumni, and other members of the University and town community were all joined together in the common effort.
“I’m here personally because my parents were immigrants, and I grew up with a lot of immigrants,” said Noemi de la Puente GS ’86. “It breaks my heart that just because a kid doesn’t have papers they don’t have a path to citizenship.” De la Puente is a member of Princeton Progressives, an alumni group dedicated to supporting the progressive activities of University graduate and undergraduate students on campus. “We don’t want to create this brain drain; we don’t want to create an underclass,” she said. “I’m here to give a voice to them.”
The various student groups sought to make the best use of the resources they had not only as citizens, but members of the University in particular, to make their voices heard.
“As Princeton students, we have a lot of resources on this campus, in our education, the things we’re able to do,” said Soraya Morales Nunez ’18, co-founder of PAJ. “This is a really pivotal moment in our country’s history. To show support is a responsibility. We need to support the University’s unofficial motto, and this is a way to do it.”
Above all, the Day of Action emphasized student involvement in the democratic process. Staying involved, Negrón-Reichard emphasized, is key for every member of a democracy, and for students in particular.
“We have to be constantly engaged to ensure we don’t take a step back,” added Negrón-Reichard. “That requires a lot from our students, but they can do it. Students have to be at the forefront of any resistance when it comes to protecting people’s rights.”