• Zella Milfred

LHS Students Fighting to Protect DACA

La Follette students walked out of school on November 12th and marched with other students from Madison in support of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. On the same day, Supreme Court hearings began to decide the fate of these immigrants, who are here legally because of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Hundreds of students marched to the state Capitol on icy roads in below freezing weather. People from all around the United States participated in this national march in hopes of protecting DACA and the people it allows to stay in the country.

Many Lancers have personal ties to the issue. “I decided to attend the walkout because DACA affects my people and I will do anything to support them. Plus, I think as part of the generation that votes next I feel it’s important to be politically active,” Alessandra Chiriboga-Pineda (11), one of the student organizers of the event, said.

DACA was created by the Obama administration in 2012. It allows the hundreds of thousands of recipients of the program, often known as Dreamers, to legally work and go to school in the United States without citizenship. It also offers access to programs like Social Security and Medicare, and prevents deportation.

While many support the program, others believe that the U.S. needs to be stricter on immigration at the southern border. DACA was put in jeopardy when, in September of 2017, President Donald Trump called for its cancellation. The approximately 700,000 immigrants who had been granted protection just a few years earlier were now going to be denied it. The Supreme Court is currently deciding if the Trump administration acted legally when trying to shut down the program. Even if the president could end the program, the lower courts have determined that the administration did not give sufficient reasoning for taking this action. This issue is now being debated in the highest court of the country.

Participants in the November march were encouraged to wear orange and black, representing the colors of the monarch butterfly that migrate across the southern border. “As we walked we said chants, and as we got closer [to the Capitol] we got louder. Being at the front of the line, seeing everyone marching was so motivating,” Megan Cohen (11) said. Cohen is another LHS student who helped organize the event, and is now hoping to start a group of high school students who can continue to work in Madison to help save DACA. The organization Voces de la Frontera also helped in the planning of the walkout.

At the Capitol the crowd heard speeches from recipients of the program in Madison and speeches from Wisconsin representatives, including support from Melissa Sargent who represents many of the students who attend La Follette. Demonstrators held signs that read “legalize my dreams” and “immigrants make America great”.

“Even if you're not a DACA recipient, the DACA program affects you,” Chiriboga-Pineda said. According to U.S. Department of Homeland Security data, in Wisconsin alone there are nearly 8,000 people in the program. “It's not fair to discriminate [against] them simply based on where they were born,” she added.

The Supreme Court is expected to announce its ruling anytime between the spring and summer of 2020.

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