By Danielle Kiefer
Students, staff and faculty gathered in Hornbake Plaza to show their support for immigrants at a gathering called “Stand UP for Immigrants” on Oct. 9.
The event, which began at noon, started with student speakers from several campus groups, including the Asian American Student Union, American Indian Student Union, Political Latinxs United for Movement and Action in Society (PLUMAS) and UndocuBlack.
Signs were distributed with facts about immigration and proposed legislation. At around 12:15 p.m., the group gathered for a group photo and broke out into a few chants, such as “no Muslim ban,” and “support UndocuBlack.”
American studies professor Janelle Wong said she was motivated to organize the event because of proposed national legislation that would hurt immigrants, including students at this university and by President Trump’s recent decision to end the Obama-era program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
“Students are losing protection from deportation through the rescinding of DACA, but they are also hurt by anti-Muslim sentiment, enacted through the travel ban, and could be hurt by the RAISE act, which will end family-based visas,” Wong said.
The location and timing of the gathering was specifically chosen in relation to its purpose. Oct. 9, traditionally known as Columbus Day, is recognized by many as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Wong said organizers of the event chose the Frederick Douglass statue in Hornbake Plaza to gather around because of his contributions to social justice.
“The reason we chose Columbus Day was to draw attention to shared efforts to combat racism among both immigrants and indigenous people,” Wong said.
Students who spoke at the gathering stressed that immigration is an issue that affects multiple communities. Junior biology and government and politics major Jagot Kaur, president of the Asian American Student Union, wanted to show her support for people of all ethnicities affected by immigration.
“It’s important that we do stand up for undocumented rights and recognize that the issue does go beyond the Latinx community,” Kaur said. “It does affect everyone, from the Asian community to the black community, and a lot of communities that we usually forget about.”
Nearly one out of every seven Asian immigrants in the U.S. is undocumented, according to AAPI Data, a project by the University of California at Riverside that collects data on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Senior multiplatform journalism major Karla Casique, president of the American Indian Student Union, encouraged students who wanted to learn more to reach out and ask questions.
“If you do want to learn, put yourself out there and hear what people think, especially in your campus,” Casique said.
Although the event was sparked by recent action in the presidential administration, organizers agreed that working to provide support and education on a smaller, more local scale is the first step.
“I think right now, the most effective thing is to work on providing resources on a grassroots level, so working really locally, working on campus to provide resources to undocumented students– we have almost 110 here alone,” Kaur said. “Then as we continue doing that with our schools and cities, states, hopefully nationally one day.”
Wong hoped that students who came out learned more about different immigrant groups and will continue to educate themselves on the issue of immigration.
“Hopefully, those who attended will fight for a clean Dream Act and learn more about the negative effects of other policies,” Wong said.