A forum was hosted by the University of Toledo Sept. 13 to inform students and the community about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival students and the Dream Act.
Peter Thomas, director of immigration; Jeff Newton, UT chief of police; Arturo Ortiz, senior paralegal attorney at ABLE Law; and Eugenio Mollo Jr., managing attorney at ABLE Law, led the forum.
“The University of Toledo is 100 percent in support of our DACA students,” Willie McKether, vice president of diversity and inclusion, said. “Here at UT we recognize that our DACA students are hard achieving students that came to the US as immigrant children and have given to this great nation of ours.”
A tweet from Latino Student Union member Luis Galindo inspired the event and spurred communication between campus organizations and UT administrators, said McKether.
“I think this is important for me because I went to a school that lacked diversity. I was the only person of Latino descent, even though I went to a school with a thousand people or more,” said Galindo, a fourth-year international business and marketing student. “I was underrepresented then and still feel that Latinos are over looked [at UT].”
Many questions looked at how community members can show support for DACA beneficiaries and the Dream Act.
The best way to show support for DACA and the Dream Act is to contact Congressional representatives, tweet at Paul Ryan, write letters to the editor of local newspapers and to attend rallies and events, said Eugenio.
The Dream Act should be the priority because it will provide a permanent solution for immigrant minors and open a way to citizenship, both of which the DACA program lacked, said Eugenio.
Another student asked Newton what would happen if there was an Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid on Campus.
“The stance from ICE has been that it will not go onto campuses and it will not enforce the immigration law on campus,” said Newton. “I think they recognize the sensitivity of the issue on campuses.”
However, not everyone shared the same opinion on the matter. A man in the audience said the questions about ICE raids, deportations and hypothetical scenarios were nothing but “fearmongering and hyperbole.”
“Nobody is rounding people up. Nobody is deporting anyone. It’s not going to happen,” the man said. “President Trump doesn’t dislike anyone from any other country. He isn’t picking people out because they are Mexican. He wants Congress to make a permanent solution.”
This isn’t the first time the threat of deportation was a reality for Latinos in the United States, said Eugenio.
“I am reminded of the United States in the 1920s and 1930s where Latinos were rounded in the southwest corner of the country, including U.S. citizens, and were removed from the United States. I hope that doesn’t happen again,” said Eugenio.
Mexico is not prepared to take back the nearly 800,000 DACA recipients, let alone the 11 million illegal immigrants, said Ortiz.
If the program ends, it will cause DACA recipients to be pushed into the shadows and make them more vulnerable, said Eugenio.
For Galindo, the turnout to the forum was better than he thought it would be, but he said people now need to act.
“People need to vote. I think we need to also call people out, especially our politicians. We need to educate people as well because not everyone knows everything,” said Galindo.