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Congresswoman Joyce Beatty

Representing the 3rd District of Ohio

Protesters Gather at Ohio State Over Trump’s Threat to DACA

Sep 6, 2017
News Articles

They gathered Tuesday in front of the Ohio Union building at the Ohio State University to show their displeasure for President Donald Trump’s action concerning children of undocumented immigrants.

There were about 150 in attendance. Some carried signs and many participated in chanting slogans. Some had a more personal stake involved.

Growing up in Columbus, Ohio, is all that Velfino Escamilla has ever really known in his life.

Trump’s revocation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that allowed children of undocumented immigrant children to stay has suddenly put Escamilla, 19, in jeopardy.

“I don’t have a memory of Mexico,” Escamilla said of the country of his birth, which he left with his parents when he was 2. He graduated from Groveport Madison High School and is now attending Columbus State Community College. His siblings - who are 15 and 13 - are unaffected because they were born in America.

“This is all I know. It wasn’t my decision to come here,” Escamilla said. “What separates me from others? It’s just a piece of paper. Because I grew up here.”

Rafael Garcia, 19, who also attended the rally, faces a predicament similar to Escamilla’s. He has been in this country since he was 4.

It would be the end of everything I have worked for,” Garcia said.

Emily Spohn, 17, a senior at Westland High School, came to the rally to show support for her boyfriend, Garcia.

“They should have the right to stay if they have not done anything wrong,” Spohn said.

The rally was organized through social media by a group called “Indivisible 15”, which is dedicated to resisting the actions of President Trump through legislation.

William Good of Indivisible 15 opened the rally by saying that Trump is “fanning the flames of hatred and prejudice” with his order revoking DACA in six months unless Congress acts.

Good said that statistics show that less than 1 percent of the estimated 800,000 DACA population in the U.S. have committed crimes - a percentage lower than the native-born population.

In going forward, Good urged the crowd to sign a petition and to contact their congressmen and Senator Rob Portman to lobby them for protection from DACA.

Stevens said that Saavedra has been a courageous advocate for the so-called “dreamers.”

“The truth is I have benefited more from knowing Marco Saavedra,” Stevens said.

There were also some fiery speeches, particularly from two women representing the International Socialists organization.

A woman, who would only identify herself as Ingrid R., said that as a documented immigrant, she was there to support the undocumented immigrants.

She drew applause from the crowd when she said that students should pressure OSU President Michael Drake to declare the campus to be a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.

“No one should have to hide in the shadows,” Ingrid said.

Reaction to Trump’s decision from central Ohio political leaders mostly broke along party lines.

“Today’s announcement puts the power back with Congress, where it belongs,” said Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington.

Calling the program “one of the most egregious examples of (Obama’s) executive overreach,” Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Genoa Township, said Congress now has “an opportunity for us to identify needed solutions that are fair and orderly for Dreamers who didn’t choose to break our laws and know no other home than America.” By using “Dreamers,” Tiberi was employing a term associated with the DREAM Act, which was a federal proposal similar to DACA that was never approved.

“As the son of immigrants who legally came to the United States from Italy, I have seen the success story of legal immigration firsthand,” he said. “In order to ensure this country remains a beacon of hope, we must adhere to the Constitution, which empowers Congress to write immigration laws, not the executive branch.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown disagreed, saying Trump “promised to go after violent criminals, not innocent children.”

“We should not be targeting young people who are working, going to school, paying taxes and contributing to this country — the country they grew up in and the only home they’ve ever known,” the Ohio Democrat said.

Rep. Joyce Beatty, a Democrat from the Gahanna area, said, “The Dreamers are committed to making America great ... Now is the time for Republicans and Democrats to do what is right, as opposed to green-lighting President Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda.”

GOP Sen. Rob Portman said Congress “should act rather than continue the Obama administration’s unconstitutional executive action. I support bipartisan efforts to find a permanent solution that will allow those in the DACA program to stay here and continue to contribute to our society.”

This article was originally published by The Columbus Dispatch on September 6, 2017.