UT students rally in support of DACA

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Photo Credit: Nikita Sveshnikov | Daily Texan Staff

A crowd of about 50 UT students marched from the Speedway Mall to the Texas State Capitol to show support for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and encourage Austinites to vote in the primary midterm elections.

“My parents brought me to the United States when I was two years old,” said Berenice Ramírez, a health and society junior, while standing on the steps of the Texas State Capitol. “Texas is all I have ever known and it is the place that I call my home. And I didn’t know what it meant to be undocumented until I came to high school. I graduated at the top of my class, but I was always made to feel inferior by my classmates.”

Ramírez is one of nearly 700,000 immigrants across the U.S. who is a recipient of DACA, an Obama-era immigration policy that temporarily prevents the deportation of immigrants who arrived in the country as minors.

Ramírez is also a member of UT’s chapter of Jolt Texas, a civic engagement organization with the goal of empowering Latinos across the nation, which helped organize the event.

The event came two days after the Supreme Court denied to review the Trump administration’s DACA appeal. The decision allows for DACA recipients to renew their application past the original March 5 deadline.

Though she thought this decision was good news for DACA recipients, Ramírez said more progress needs to be made.

“We still have to fight,” Ramírez said. “There’s family members of these ‘DREAMers,’ these DACA recipients that are still unprotected so we need a clean DREAM Act now.”

As part of the event, the Jolt Make Art Committee created a pan dulce butterfly art installation to bring to the state capitol. The words “Migration is sweet” were painted on
the installation.

Art activist Edith Valle said they created the art piece to uplift dreamers and reflect the beauty and nature of migration.

“The monarch butterfly became a symbol of immigration due to its ability to move freely across North American borders,” Valle said. “Just like immigrants, they move
to survive.”

Valle said with the nation’s current political climate, immigrants feel threatened by deportations and are often stereotyped as criminals.

“Our food … is beloved by Austinites, our music is more readily accepted and integrated into the fabric of society,” Valle said. “But yet the people who make it are not.”

Art activist Jesus Valdez said that the art piece reminds society that just like the migrating butterflies, no human is illegal.

“They can try and stop us with walls, but our culture moves freely,” Valdez said. “We will not be defined or contained by any boundaries.”

The group also gave participants an opportunity to register to vote in November’s midterm elections.

Ramírez said even though she couldn’t vote, she encouraged everyone else to do so in order to elect legislators who listened to the concerns of DREAMers.

“As youth, we have the power, we have the numbers,” Ramírez said. “We’re the ones who are going to be holding the future of Texas, we’re the ones who are going to have to deal with the problems and issues that come about.”