On a Saturday afternoon at East City Park, Palouse residents gathered in the grass waiting for the rally to start.
All were in attendance with a similar purpose in mind — to stand in solidarity with those affected by the Trump Administration’s decision to phase-out Deferred Action for Chidhood Arrivals (DACA).
As Sunday’s Defend DACA Rally unfolded, a common theme that all undocumented immigrants should be protected, not just DACA recipients, spread among each of the speakers.
“We need to look further and critique the way that white supremacy, xenophobia, racism and sexism intersect to enforce these narratives,” said Audrey Faunce, a law student at the University of Idaho. “It is not our place to judge someone on why they came here or their methods, but rather to fight alongside them without criminalizing or alienating other immigrant ways.”
The rally, sponsored by the Moscow Human Rights Commission, was a collaborative effort between UI campus Here for Our People’s Empowerment, or H.O.P.E. coalition of students, DACA holders, undocumented immigrants and people from mixed-status families.
During the rally, speakers from these organizations read brief stories shared by people who are affected by the DACA announcement. Faunce said most stories read came from blogs and immigration websites that have resources for undocumented immigrants and people from mixed status families, not necessarily from locals.
Undocumented immigrant and DACA recipient, 23-year-old Jose Manuel Carrillo from Bellingham, discussed the importance of dismantling the “dreamer narrative” and moving toward a narrative that values human dignity at its core.
“I started thinking, what is the root of this narrative? Who is damaged by it?” he said.
The two main components of the “dreamer narrative,” he said, are economic benefits and assimilation.
Carrillo said the economic benefit of having DACA recipients and people who fall into the box of “dreamers,” is in large part due to media portrayals.
“Even this week, defend DACA rallies and infographics related to supporting DACA often included some statistics about how much capital the U.S. would lose if DACA recipients were to be taken away or deported,” Carrillo said. “The idea of justifying immigration for economic benefit is not a new one to the United States.”
Carrillo said the idea of bringing people to the U.S. for economic benefit “goes back to our beginnings,” where slaves were forced to come to the states and have their labor exploited in order to help the economy.
“It was one of the darkest and most horrible things that humans have done in our history” Carrillo said. “The presentation of people only having capitalistic worth, not only leads to exploitation, but ignores their humanity.”
Carrillo said he acknowledges that economic benefit will be discussed in some form when talking about supporting DACA recipients to Congress. However, he said as undocumented immigrants and allies internalize and believe the economic benefit narrative, the rest of the community is left behind.
In terms of assimilation, he said the typical media portrayal shows DACA recipients as educated, English speakers striving to do something prestigious, like become a lawyer or join the military.
“American in every way, except on paper,” Carrillo said, “talk like us, work like us and look like us and only then do you deserve to be here is the message that we’re pushing when we talk about assimilation.”
Carrillo said this is not the message people should send to the undocumented community, noting that if someone doesn’t want to go to college or speak perfect English they don’t deserve to be in the America less.
“What about those who dream of being musicians or painters,” Carrillo said. “What about those who dream of simply having a family and working a stable job? What about those who will never fit into this box of the perfect immigrant?”
Carrillo said reinforcing the DACA narrative causes harm within recipients and the young, undocumented community. He said while undocumented parents and community members are criminalized, the spotlight remains on DACA recipients, reinstating the theme which was portrayed throughout the rally that all undocumented immigrants matter.
“They deserve to be here just as much as the DACA recipients do,” Carrillo said. “No human being deserves to be detained and deported.”
Following Carrillo’s speech, Faunce said it is important to be allies to the Moscow community during trying times and to uphold dialogue about undocumented immigrants.
“We need to keep fighting and we need to keep fighting not just for DACA holders, even though this is the Trump Administration’s decision to resend DACA was kind of like the call to action, to push fighting for the whole undocumented community,” Faunce said. “We need to keep fighting for systematic immigration reform led by the undocumented community.”
Savannah Cardon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @savannahlcardon