Office of Multicultural Student Life holds DACA conversation

On Monday, Sept. 18 Augustana students and staff gathered in the Brunner Theater Black Box to discuss DACA.
The event was led by Vanessa Dominguez, a Junior double majoring in Political Science and Psychology, and Nicholas Martinez, a Junior double majoring Biology and Spanish. Both parties work for the Office of Multicultural Student Life as Program Coordinators and organized the event.
The conversation began by defining DACA (Deferred Action of Childhood Arrival) which protects undocumented children brought to the United States before the age of sixteen from deportation over the duration of two years. The program requires recipients to reapply every two years and provides them with a work permit and social security number. To be eligible for DACA one must be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, however this is not the only requirement.
“Personally, I really feel a certain sense of obligation because I really want to bring these social justice issues to the public so they know what’s going on,” Martinez said. “My family is from Mexico—my parents were born there—and it hits home with me. Not everyone who participates in DACA is of Latin American descent, but personally for me, my grandparents were undocumented. It was important that they sacrifice everything for my family to come here and I know that’s still going on and people are participating in DACA to try to improve their lives for themselves and the future generation.”
In their presentation, Dominguez and Martinez implemented a true or false portion to clear up confusion about the program. It was explained that DACA is not a pathway to citizenship and recipients are not eligible for healthcare or financial aid, though they do pay taxes. They also addressed the announcement made on Sept. 5 by attorney general, Jeff Sessions, informing the nation that DACA was being rescinded and discussed what it means for undocumented immigrants. The conversation then opened up to the group, prompted by several discussion questions.
Junior Crystal Salazar, a Political Science and Spanish double major, is the Vice President of Latinx Unidos and attended the conversation.
“The rescinding of DACA is a very major issue because over 800,000 people are affected. It also has a huge overall effect on the economy because DACA is essentially a work permit, so you’re taking 800,000 people who have jobs, who have been benefiting the economy for various years—you’re just taking them out. You’re losing millions or even billions of dollars by doing this,” Salazar said. “These are essentially Americans. They have come here from a very early age and they know America culturally. Some of them don’t even know their language of origin. It’s our civil duty to have this conversation. People are going to be talking about this in the future—we are in a point of history where you’re either doing something, or you’re not.”
Dr. Evelyn Campbell, Dean and Vice President of Student Life, was also in attendance and said that students, “can show support by wearing or posting the butterfly which has become a symbol for the DACA.”
First Year student, Camila Davila joined the conversation, speaking on behalf of DACA’s effects on the Augustana community: “In our school alone there are so many kids who are DACA recipients and who don’t know what’s going on and what’s happening and are living in such a time of anxiety and uncertainty, causing them to worry a lot. I think that affects our environment because obviously these are great kids with so much potential and yet they don’t know where they stand on campus, so I think it’s important to present a united front and come together to help them.”
Diangelo Gonzalez, also a First Year, commented further on the need for support: “If we sit back and do nothing it proliferates the idea that these students are less than American citizens. I like that we have meetings like this because it allows us to stand up and speak out for these kids and I think that’s super important,” Gonzales said.