As the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program now begins its phase-out, students at the University of Idaho are fighting for the status of so-called Dreamers with a newly formed weapon: HOPE.
Short for Here for Our People’s Empowerment, the organization held its first public demonstration Friday on the Idaho Commons plaza where about 25 students took a stance in a circle, chanting and holding signs in solidarity with recipients of DACA status.
“We want to take up space and hold space and be a voice for those people that might not be heard otherwise their status, like, hangs in the balance at this point,” HOPE member Bella Villalpando told the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.
The demonstration began at 7 a.m. and students chanted “Vandals for DACA,” “We must unite to fight for what’s right,” and other phrases until 6 p.m.
In between chants, passersby were asked to text RESIST to 50409. The action sent a fax to the sender’s local senator’s office telling them to defend DACA.
Catherine Yenne, vice president of the Associated Students University of Idaho, said HOPE worked closely with ASUI last week to draft a piece of legislation stating ASUI’s official support of recipients of DACA status.
That status allows those who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children to live and work legally in the U.S. for two years. That, in turn, makes them eligible for many other things such as driver’s licenses, employer-subsidized health insurance and many state-sponsored programs – but not most federal programs.
Yenne said the ASUI Senate will vote on the resolution Wednesday during their regular senate meeting. If passed, the resolution would be sent out to university officials as well as the Trump Administration, Yenne said.
HOPE is also collaborating with students across state lines at Washington State University to raise money for application and renewal fees as certain DACA deadlines suddenly loom.
Last Wednesday, the Crimson Group, an activist support group for undocumented students and allies at WSU, established a Gofundme page to support application renewals for those at WSU and UI with DACA status.
By Friday, the campaign had raised $3,531 from 41 people, including a $1,986 donation listed on behalf of WSU’s Sigma Lambda Beta chapter, a historically Latino fraternity.
As part of President Donald Trump’s decision to end the DACA program in six months unless Congress comes up with another solution, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stopped accepting new DACA applications last Tuesday.
Some of those who have already applied for DACA status now have a one-month window to renew their applications, which is reported to come with a $495 fee.
The program allows undocumented youth to receive a two-year work permit and protection from deportation.
Those whose status expires between now and March 5, 2018, have until Oct. 5 to renew their application.
“It’s pretty sudden … it’s kind of hard to just find that money at the drop of a hat,” Villalpando said.
This is not the last DACA rally to hit the state of Idaho this month. Saturday, people were expected to gather on the Idaho Statehouse steps in Boise at the #HereToStay rally to support about 3,000 DACA participants living in Idaho.
On Sunday, another rally to defend DACA is scheduled 1-3 p.m. at East City Park in Moscow.
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