Silver City, NM- On Wednesday October 5th, WNMU’s Miller Library placed their seats, couches, and chairs in a welcoming circle to initiate their panel titled “Celebrating Dreamers,” which spoke about the DACA program that is being rescinded by president Trump and gave a deeper perspective of the millions of lives being affected by the decision.
For those who do not know, DACA (which stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is an administrative relief from deportation established by the Obama administration in June 2012 which grants young immigrants a work permit and protection from deportation. As of 2017, there are approximately 800,000 young men and women in the U.S. who are enrolled in DACA, often referred to as Dreamers due to the DREAM act bill.
The panel’s guest included Matthew Lara, Director of Undergraduate Admission and Recruitment, Dr. Lydia Huerta, Assistant Professor and Co-Director of the Center of Gender Equity, and finally three WNMU alumni under DACA’s protection: Grecia Rivas, Stephanie Dayana Baez Mendez, and Marco Ravelo. The three students each told stories of bravery and sacrifice to become a part of the country and access a successful education. Towards the end of the panel the students voiced their thoughts and feelings towards the termination of the program.
“I couldn’t talk to my parents about it, because I was scared of their reaction and what was going to happen,” Baez said, “it just feels like everything you worked for was for nothing.”
In additional response to the issue, Ravelo added, “These are parents doing the best to protect their children and doing what they can.”
Western New Mexico University presents itself as an open-enrollment campus, and doesn’t close the opportunity to students because of their nationality, sex, race, and sexual orientation.
“I like to be part of an institution that welcomes people,” quotes Matthew Lara. “The idea of shutting the doors to students like this is just like turning my back to what I was taught to believe as an American.”
Dr. Huerta also reinforced the issues of immigration by reading an excerpt from a novel dating back nearly 100 years that still reflected the issues of immigration the U.S. has up to this day.
During the panel, Grecia Rivas announced the launch of the Grecia Rivas scholarship made especially for DACA and undocumented students seeking higher learning from WNMU. The WNMU Foundation scholarship is still open for donations.