ETSU students rally against ending DACA; plea to legislators to protect Dreamers
Dozens of students rallied at ETSU to protest President Trump's plan to pull the plug on DACA, an immigration policy put in place by President Obama.
DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It started in 2012 to protect 800,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation.
ETSU officials do not know the number of students who are DACA recipients because it's not information they track. But Dr. Brian Noland issued a statement, supporting students and offering school resources to those affected.
DACA allows people to apply for a drivers license, and go to school and work in the U.S. legally. In return, DACA recipients pay income taxes. But students at ETSU said that's all in jeopardy until congress makes a decision.
They're called Dreamers - undocumented immigrants who moved to the U.S. as children. Many have no memory of their home country.
"I understand, we came here illegally," ETSU student Jessica Miranda said." We're living in a country that we weren't born in. But I didn't have a word in that. I was four years old."
Miranda and Carlos Carillo have different majors at ETSU, but their paths cross here. Both are now worried about their future in the U.S.
President Trump has given congress six months to pass something to protect these dreamers. So rally organizer Noah Nordstrom, whose loved one is a dreamer, said now is the time to speak up.
"It's not something we talk about on a regular basis," Nordstrom said. "Now that we're talking about it, we realize there's so many people, who have friends or family members or themselves, who are affected by this DACA decision."
And he wants to send a strong message to our legislators.
"We're here because we care; and we have to hold people accountable who are in power," Nordstrom said.
Last week, Congressman Phil Roe weighed in on DACA, calling it a priority on Capitol Hill.
"It will be dealt with as part of a comprehensive package," Congressman Roe said. "That may or may not include a border wall. I think six months is enough time. Congress needs to deal with this, and it needs to be done now."
Other Tennessee lawmakers, including Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, also commented, emphasizing the need to secure our borders and fix our immigration policy.
Students at this rally said there must be a way to do that without punishing dreamers. Nordstrom believes ending DACA would have a ripple effect across college campuses.
"If this goes through, we're going to have a lot of students drop out," Nordstrom said. "Our numbers are going to go down. We're going to lose a lot of people who add a lot to the culture."
So these students are hopeful lawmakers will agree, it doesn't benefit anyone end 800,000 dreams.
"Until that deadline comes by, I'll still keep pushing forward, still pursuing my dreams," Carillo said.
"Going to Mexico is always an option, but I came here when I was four years old," Miranda said. "I call this home."
News 5 asked DACA students, what about applying to become a U.S. citizen? They said it's a process that can take years. But if congress doesn't approve something soon, it's a path they would consider to stay in the U.S.