Stu­dents, staff rally to­gether to ‘De­fend DACA’

Col­lege of the Canyons com­mu­nity of­fers plat­form for peo­ple to get cor­rect in­for­ma­tion on child­hood ar­rival pro­gram

The Signal - - NEWS - By Christina Cox Sig­nal Staff Writer ccox@sig­ 661-287-5575 On Twit­ter @_Christi­naCox_

Juan Flores, a stu­dent at Col­lege of the Canyons, re­mem­bers ex­actly where he was when he heard that the Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion de­cided to end the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals pro­gram.

“I was ac­tu­ally in my house. I had just got home from work,” said Flores, who is a DACA re­cip­i­ent. “I was re­ally just shocked, I didn’t know what to do so that night I did not sleep at all. So many ques­tions were run­ning through my head that I didn’t know what to ex­pect, I still don’t know what to ex­pect.”

In 2000, at the age of 2, Flores was brought to the United States from Mex­ico by his par­ents. The fam­ily of three moved to the U.S. to find a bet­ter life and ful­fill the Amer­i­can Dream.

“From my par­ents’ per­spec­tive, we [im­mi­grants] come be­cause we have a bet­ter op­por­tu­nity to live bet­ter,” he said. “This is my home. This is where I’ve been since I was a lit­tle kid. I grew up watch­ing English tele­vi­sion go­ing to ele­men­tary school to high school only speak­ing English.”

Flores was among dozens of COC stu­dents and staff who ral­lied to­gether Wed­nes­day to ed­u­cate the cam­pus com­mu­nity about the im­pact of the pro­posed changes to the DACA pro­gram and send a mes­sage of sup­port to those in the DACA com­mu­nity.

The #De­fendDACA event was or­ga­nized in a lit­tle less than a week and was co-spon­sored by the As­so­ci­ated Stu­dent Govern­ment, the Model United Na­tions Club and In­ter­na­tional Ser­vice and Pro­grams.

“There’s so much mis­in­for­ma­tion about DACA re­cip­i­ents and im­mi­gra­tion in this coun­try and in this val­ley,” ASG Pres­i­dent Devon Miller said. “We wanted to give stu­dents a plat­form to get the cor­rect in­for­ma­tion. That was the big­gest thing.”

Miller stressed that the rally was not an anti-Trump event, but was a pro-DACA and pro-stu­dent event to ed­u­cate the cam­pus com­mu­nity and dis­pel some of the myths sur­round­ing DACA.

“Th­ese peo­ple came here when they were very young. It is the Amer­i­can Dream, the Amer­i­can Ideal to let th­ese peo­ple stay here, get an ed­u­ca­tion, get a job,” Miller said. “Zero per­cent of th­ese DACA re­cip­i­ents are criminals, 91 per­cent have jobs, 91 per­cent pay taxes and con­trib­ute to our so­ci­ety.”

Cal­i­for­nia is the state with the most DACA re­cip­i­ents, with a fourth, or 200,000, Dream­ers liv­ing, work­ing or study­ing in the state.

“I can guar­an­tee you that you sit in a class­room or sat in a class­room with a DACA re­cip­i­ent so they could be your co-worker, they could be your neigh­bor. They are, for all in­tents and pur­poses, Amer­i­can,” Po­lit­i­cal Science Pro­fes­sor Ni­cholas Her­nan­dez said.

Phil Gussin, po­lit­i­cal science pro­fes­sor and fac­ulty ad­vi­sor for the Model United Na­tions, said the con­ver­sa­tion about DACA must con­tinue to pro­tect friends, class­mates and fam­ily mem­bers who could be af­fected by the pol­icy change be­fore the end of the school year.

“While some peo­ple talk about DACA in terms of pol­icy, it’s not a de­bate for DACA stu­dents,” Gussin said. “It’s life and death and it’s a threat that the only coun­try you’ve ever known talk­ing about de­port­ing you or de­port­ing your par­ents.”

Bre­anny An­drade, a COC alumna who is trans­fer­ring to Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia San Diego, said she per­son­ally un­der­stands the fears of DACA stu­dents as the daugh­ter of im­mi­grants.

“Grow­ing up I was al­ways told th­ese sto­ries and was in awe of the strug­gle they went through,” An­drade said. “I know that there isn’t any­thing that sep­a­rates me from some­one else, a cit­i­zen or some­one who was not born here, some­one who had no op­tion and de­serves the same op­por­tu­ni­ties as I.”

The #De­fendDACA event also worked to dis­pel myths sur­round­ing DACA re­cip­i­ents and in­form stu­dents about ser­vices avail­able to them at the Stu­dent Health and Well­ness Cen­ter and through the In­ter­na­tional Ser­vice and Pro­grams.

“DACA stu­dents are not in­ter­na­tional stu­dents, DACA stu­dents are do­mes­tic stu­dents, they’re Santa Clarita Val­ley stu­dents,” said Tim Honedal, as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of In­ter­na­tional Ser­vices and Pro­grams.

It also pro­vided at­ten­dees with in­for­ma­tion from im­mi­gra­tion at­tor­ney Floyd Fer­nan­dez who de­scribed var­i­ous path­ways to cit­i­zen­ship through pro­cesses like a U Visa and Sec­tion 245(i).

“It was pow­er­ful, just to see stu­dents share their sto­ries with other stu­dents who may have been af­fected,” Miller said. “We didn’t get a DACA stu­dent to speak un­for­tu­nately be­cause they are be­ing si­lenced out of fear and out of anx­i­ety.”

Although Flores did not speak at the #De­fendDACA rally, he chose to share his voice af­ter the event to fight for his rights and not live in the shad­ows.

“For me I see it in a dif­fer­ent way. I’m in fear but I want to be out there to pro­mote that I’m fight­ing for my rights, I’m fight­ing for what I be­lieve in,” Flores said. “I’m here for my dream, this is my dream. My whole life de­pends on this.”

Katharine Lotze/The Sig­nal

Col­lege of the Canyons stu­dents hold signs sup­port­ing the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals as they lis­ten to speak­ers at a rally for the pol­icy in the Honor Grove on Wed­nes­day.

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