Around 70 students and community members assembled in the EMU Amphitheater Thursday afternoon to advocate for the DREAM Act and its recipients known as “Dreamers.”
The audience held signs with phrases such as “if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”
The DREAM Act, according to the National Immigration Law Center, is described as a bill that would provide a “direct road” to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, immigrants with DACA and ones who have temporary citizenship.
Four out of the five representatives for Oregon support a clean DREAM Act, meaning that the bill would not have any negative side effects. Republican Representative Greg Walden of Hood River does not.
Karina Garcia, a senior and student organizer of the event, added that the event was about joining the movement to get the act passed by the end of December.
“The purpose of this event is to put pressure on the representatives […] to pass the Dream Act,” Garcia said.
The demonstration began with Garcia rallying the audience with a Spanish chant: “Escucha! Escucha,! Estamos en la lucha,” which translates to: “Listen! Listen! We are in the fight!”
Other chants, including “what do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” also took place. A pamphlet with contact information for Walden as well as other chants was handed out at the beginning of the rally.
A number of students, of both the University of Oregon and other places, also took the stage to express their own struggles and why the DREAM Act is important.
Sophomore Jesus Narvaez, who attends Lane Community College, walked the audience through the history of Latino struggle, starting with the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe, which gave the US ownership of Mexican land.
Narvaez then moved on to discuss other impactful events, such as “Operation Wetback,” a CIA mission occurring between 1954 and 1958 that deported millions of people with Mexican descent, some of which were actually U.S. citizens.
Narvaez has also been a community activist since he was 17.
“If no one else is going to [stand up], I’m going to do it,” Narvaez said.
Narvaez was overcome with emotion during his speech, tearing up as he left the stage.
University of Oregon student Estefania Garcia, another presenter, explained the grief and emotional struggle that took place for her on the night of the 2016 presidential election.
She recalled how she went home to her room, sat down with the lights off, and wept.
“[Because for us], it’s not just four years. It’s our lives.” Estefania Garcia said. “I felt so hopeless, powerless and alone.”
The 2017 Congressional Session ends on Dec. 15, so Oregonians will have until then to make their opinions heard.
The presentation concluded with a call to the audience to email, call and otherwise contact Walden to convince him to support the DREAM Act, saying that it’s important for everyone to be on the right side of history.
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