THMS walkout to oppose DACA repeal

Nadira Mitchell, Cactus Chronicle

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At a time when many are not being heard, THMS students are speaking up.

Forty students walked out of their classes on Sept. 11 and rallied on the University of Arizona campus in response to the Trump administration’s retraction of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The group was also concerned with TUSD’s inaction on addressing the decision.

DACA was established as an executive order from President Obama in 2012, in an effort to allow immigrant children brought into the U.S illegally under the age of 16, protection from deportation and the right to go to school and work.

President Trump plans on rescinding the DACA program within the next six months. DACA recipients—known as “Dreamers”—are now in the hands of Congress.   

Ysabelle Garcia, a senior at THMS, organized the walk-out after being encouraged by Jessica Rodriguez, an organizer from Living United for Change in Arizona.

Rodriguez explained to Garcia that there were not enough young people in the movement, so Garcia took the initiative to be the organizer of the movement at THMS.

“Everyone knows someone affected by DACA because we are so close to the border,” Garcia said.

Principle Shawna Rodriguez and three police officers on campus wanted to negotiate with the students to prevent them from leaving campus.

The school staff called for a lockdown, but Garcia and the other students were persistent in marching out. Eventually, the school staff conceded and told the students to be safe.

At the rally, THMS students, university students and and local immigrants’ rights groups held signs and chanted “no hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here,” and “not my president.”

“Seeing how many people agreed with us on how important the issue was made it so powerful,” Garcia said.

The rally was followed by a press conference later that day where reporters questioned the different organizations about their motives to protest and a march on Tucson City Hall the day after.

Frieda Muller, a senior and a member of the Human Rights’ club at THMS, walked out in solidarity with students who could lose their right to attend class from the end of DACA.

“I walked out because I am privileged enough to attend class in a place that I felt would not punish me for protesting the mistreatment of my fellow students,” Muller said.

Garcia has faced opposition from other students at school for organizing the walk-out.      People have called her out on social media to discredit her and the other students who joined in the protest.

“I think it’s putting people down, we know what’s going on, especially with all the media,” Garcia said in response to the negativity. 

Congressman Rául Grijalva was arrested for civil disobedience during a protest at Trump Tower because of Trump’s desire to dismantle the DACA program.

“I think it’s great to see a representative representing his people by taking actions instead of making statements, compared to other current representatives,” Garcia said.

Garcia’s next step in the fight for immigration rights is to help people with citizenship applications and help people sign up for the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA).

She’s been recently trained at Mi Familia Vota to help people fill out naturalizations forms, and DACA renewal forms.

She has already helped a man fill out these forms. 

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THMS walkout to oppose DACA repeal