Fresno State students shouted their support of DACA through an iPhone placed on a speaker to Congressman David Valadeo, R-Hanford, while stating their objection to President Donald J. Trump’s rescinding of the program.
Approximately 150 students gathered in the university’s free speech area yesterday (Sept. 5) in a rally organized by the Fresno State Students for Quality Education. Several students shared their stories on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) through an open microphone. One student held up a sign with a toll-free number where Congressmen Valadeo, Nunes and others could be reached.
Days before Trump decided to end DACA and give Congress 120 days to come up with a solution, Valadeo sent the president a letter supporting DACA.
“I think it’s important they share their fears, that they let us know a little bit about their history. I think it’s important for them to ventilate what they’re feeling,” said Dr. Luz González, a former farmworker and dean of the Fresno State Visalia Campus.
González provided words of comfort and encouragement and spoke of the potential and lingering effect DACA students may suffer.
“Right now, many of them are working professionals that are home owners, tax payers. You have the ones that are at the university level that are in line to get baccalaureate degrees, master’s, doctorate degrees. Now they know at any given time, once they pass that grace period, they’re just going to be a group of undocumented people without the benefit of working papers.”
She also mentioned challenges that could surface to those trying to finish college, and younger students in grade school.
Brisa Ramírez graduated from Fresno State in 2015 with a degree in mass communications. She joined the rally at the Robert E. Coyle Federal Building downtown the same day.
“It was just a matter of time for this moment to come. Some of us benefited from this program, but there’s loved ones that were left out,” said Ramírez, who came to the U.S. with her parents as an 11-year-old in 2002.
“Back in our countries, we face a lot more hardships, struggles. Coming to another country, it’s different. It’s been such a journey.”
Cecelia Ruesta, with the Fresno State Students for Quality Education, emceed most of the rally.
“I was recently undocumented for five, but I became a U.S. citizen last year,” said Ruesta, a graduate student in the marriage, family and student counseling.
She was 16 years old upon arrival in 2005 to the U.S. with her older brother of two years, following their mother from Lima, Perú, who had arrived in 2001.
Although she completed high school in her country, Ruesta needed to attend adult school in the United States. She attended junior college and is completing the Fresno State graduate program.
“I got my citizenship based on fear. My fear became real. We ran to get our citizenship out of fear of being deported,” said Ruesta.
The Fresno chapter of Students for Quality Education is open from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. each Monday in the Cross Cultural Center in the Thomas Building.