DREAM Activists Slam President Obama at Immigration Rally
The Obama Administration has deported more than 1.06 million undocumented immigrants during its first three years in office. That’s in spite of the president’s former promise to push through the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM Act) bill during his first two years, as well as his continuing public support of those whom Republican presidential debatees often refer to as “illegals.”
So, about 40 people met at Independence Mall yesterday for a “Coming out of the shadows” protest, in which local undocumented Americans would declare their status and argue for the DREAM Act. The rally was put together by DreamActivistPA, a youth organization dedicated to undocumented workers’ rights.
The event included speakers from schools around the Greater Philadelphia area, as well as professors, a preacher and state Rep. Tony Payton, who this summer introduced a bill to the state House that would allow undocumented workers to qualify for less expensive college tuition. The rally began at Independence Mall and marched up Market Street to Philadelphia’s Immigration Court.
“We are…here to call out President Obama and his administration for his failure to speak out for the immigrant community,” said Fernanda Marroquin, who began the rally’s speaking session. “President Obama says he supports us but continues to deport us and separate our community. We are here to tell him his words are not enough and we demand more from him.”
President Barack Obama’s policy on undocumented workers was a much-chastised point from several speakers. As well as the fact that he is well on pace to out-deport President Bush, who sent about 1.5 million undocumented workers back to their countries of origin during his own eight years of hateful rule. Obama has called not passing the DREAM Act his “biggest disappointment.”
Speaker Jessica Li, a undocumented student at Bryn Mawr College, began a series of chants, one of which was “Obama, stop deporting hard-working immigrants!” and “Obama, stop the lies!”
Cesar Marroquin, a student at Montgomery County Community College and organizer for DreamActivist Pennsylvania, also spoke about his undocumented status. When reached afterwards, he told PW, “I used to be scared [of being deported] but that feeling has come out of me because of all the undocumented youth that have come out of the shadows. I’m not afraid anymore, I’m an American and I’m a member of my community…Right now, we need to call out Obama for separating families, separating dads and mothers from their little kids.”
He says he believes Obama has taken such a harsh stance on illegal immigration because the president is scared of a potential Republican backlash.
“Right now, I don’t see [the Hispanic community supporting President Obama in 2012],” he says. “They don’t like what’s going on around the country, especially in places like Alabama, where you have to show ID to use public transportation.”
Marroquin also says his group is aware of and fighting the hard-stance illegal immigration bills Pennsylvania Rep. Daryl Metcalfe is trying to push through the Pennsylvania legislature.
A Haverford student named Edward says he’s originally from Alabama and has seen, first hand, undocumented Americans whose water has been turned off because of the new laws in that state.
“It’s a serious violation of human rights affecting documented and undocumented, mixed status families in their community,” he says. “The kids are being pulled out of schools in Alabama. They have to live in fear and [the government is] creating a system of apartheid; separating the documented communities form undocumented, not allowing them to socialize in public without fear…it’s not part of our morals as a nation.”
Wharton sophomore Tania Chairez spoke after the crowd marched to Philadelphia Immigration Court. “Please don’t ever call me illegal,” she spoke to the crowd at 9th and Market. “I am a human being. I am undocumented because I lack a nine digit number that keeps me from doing a lot of things that people in this country take for granted.”
Chairez wrote an op/ed in the Daily Pennsylvanian on October 12, declaring herself undocumented.
“I don’t care if I don’t have a nine-digit number,” she says. “I can still tell a policeman ‘I have the right to remain silent,’ because I have rights as a human being. We want to tell Obama today that he can say whatever he wants. He can tell us about as many new policies as he can think of, but if he doesn’t put in place [a tactic] to implement them, how are they supposed to take action? How is ICE supposed to not deport us?”