CoMo for Progress held a demonstration outside the Boone County Courthouse on Sept. 10 opposing President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy last Tuesday.
The Defend DACA Demonstration hosted about 200 people from the Columbia area, with many of them waving American flags and carrying colorful homemade signs. These posters included sayings such as “I Stand with the Dreamers,” “Keep the Kids, Deport the Hate” and “Impeach the caca, keep DACA.”
After Trump officially announced his decision to roll back former President Barack Obama’s act for children of undocumented immigrants in America, members of CoMo for Progress voiced their wishes to hold a rally to advisory board member Katie Doherty. Although the group only had a few days to put the rally together, Doherty felt it was important to respond as soon as possible.
“It’s an emergency protest,” Doherty said. “There's a lot of anxiety in the immigrant community right now, so it’s crucial to highlight this issue on their behalf, in a time when they feel like they can’t speak for themselves.”
To kick off the rally, Biological Sciences Professor Candace Galen led the crowd in an English and Spanish rendition of “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie. Galen believes that music is the best way to show solidarity with groups in times of need.
“This land was made for dreamers. This land was made for you and me,” Galen said to the crowd.
After the song was over, CoMo for Progress organizers and demonstrators took to the courtyard to deliver speeches on DACA. Immigration lawyer Helene Fehlig Tatum spoke on the difficult week she’s had as a result of Trump’s decision.
“It’s a very said time right now in this country,” Fehlig Tatum said. “I work with a lot of young DACA students, and these are kids who, unfortunately, now will become more undocumented than before.”
In addition to the various speeches, Kate Canterbury, lead organizer of CoMo for Progress, encouraged the crowd to chant along to phrases used in many other rallies against Trump’s various policies this past year. In an effort to energize the crowd, Canterbury shouted, “Legalization, not deportation,” and “No hate, no fear. Immigrants are welcome here,” into a black megaphone.
Mobilizing the public was an important objective for many of the speakers at the demonstration. They realized that in order to move forward in combating this issue, work had to be done.
MU senior Darneisha Coleman urged the crowd to apply the sentiments of this demonstration to their daily lives and take action whenever they can.
“When you see the police trying to raid somebody, as somebody with privilege, what are you going to do to stop it?” Coleman asked. “We can chant all day, but we have to realize that the collective power comes from the organization as a people, not from the states.”
To help facilitate the after-rally action, organizers passed out contact information of local, state and national government representatives. Educating the public on what steps they can take next is a cornerstone of what CoMo for Progress does at these demonstrations, Doherty said.
“We won’t just say we're done after today,” Doherty said. “This was a step to energize you, but here’s what else we need to do. We need to ask Congress to pass the DREAM Act. Give protection to the 800,000 DREAMers in America.”
Although securing legislation through Congress is considered more of a long-term goal, demonstrators were able to show their support to the immigrant community in a more immediate way just by being there. Creating a visual representation of solidarity in the form of a rally is important in reassuring DACA recipients during this time of uncertainty, Doherty said.
“It makes me so happy to see so many people out here because this is a scary situation,” DACA recipient Ana Garcia said. “You guys are really what makes America great.”
Edited by Sarah Hallam | email@example.com