The Latino Student Association at the University of Central Arkansas last week hosted an informational meeting surrounding the recent DACA decisions made by President Donald Trump and his administration.
The event, held on Sept. 7 in the Student Center Ballroom, brought in dozens to share personal stories about the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) Program and speak on behalf of close friends and family members who are being directly affected by the choices of the Trump Administration.
Jocelyn Perez, the president of LSA, said the association, along with four other Hispanic organizations including the UCA Colony of Phi Iota Alpha Inc., UCA Colony of Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha Inc., LLEAD (Latinx Leadership Empowerment and Development) and LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) of Faulkner County Council, chose to put together the event to help the community become aware of the number of DACA recipients who are currently on campus and are in need of support and encouragement.
"Seeing the amount of people that showed up [Thursday] night was truly amazing," she said. "We had a total of 57 people show up [Thursday] night and [five] of them spoke at the meeting. Whether it was words of advice, encouragement or their stories, it was greatly appreciated."
Guadalupe Jasso De Arcos, the president of LLEAD, said the news hit home to many people at UCA who are involved in the program and who know someone who is.
She said the morning U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement and she heard the word "rescinded," her whole world caved in.
"I know I googled the [word] ‘rescinded’ just to be assured that I wasn’t thinking of the wrong definition," Jasso De Arcos said. "I was in disbelief and honestly scared."
So many possible scenarios including losing her driver’s license, her job as a teacher and being deported all came to mind, she said.
Jasso De Arcos said the decision to hold the meeting was made among the groups after President Houston Davis released his statement on the issue in support of DACA and its participants.
"We knew that UCA was standing by DACA," Jasso De Arcos said. "This is a huge issue and is [threatening] the livelihoods of 800,000 [people]. Everyone should be informed about this issue and [that’s] what we were aiming for."
As a Dreamer — the name DACA program participants are referred to based on the DREAM Act bill — she said, their main goal is to find allies.
"Living in a Red State, DACAmented students [feel] that they don’t have as much support as students in states like California," Jasso De Arcos said. "We wanted to show people that this decision made was more than politics and wanted to give DACA a story and a face for those who had no idea of what it is or how bad it was affecting someone that could be sitting next to you in class."
She said the meeting was met with overwhelming support and the message that other students and faculty stood by their side and action needed to be taken was received.
"It was so overwhelming receiving hugs and support from students and faculty at UCA … many who have never met me," Jasso De Arcos said. "Them coming up to me showing their support and asking what they can do made me realize that I was not [as] alone as I had felt the morning the announcement was said. Having faculty and other organizations [publicly] state that they are allies to DREAMers means more than they think to us."
Lupe said that during this six-month period that President Trump gave Congress to pass a permanent solution, people can call, email or send letters to senators to make a difference.