Progressive groups in Western North Carolina are pushing back against the Trump administration’s decision to end the DACA program in six months. BPR’s Davin Eldridge has more…
Well over a hundred demonstrators, mostly students, turned out to protest the administration’s decision at Western Carolina University. They made their objections heard next to the college’s so-called Fountain of Wisdom, in the center of campus. The crowds chanted "si se puede".
The event was organized by the local chapter of Indivisible Common Ground, with the help of the school’s College Democrats and NAACP student organizations. Even a few of the schools Young Republicans and Libertarians came out. As evening turned to night, several immigrant students spoke out:
“My mom always emphasized education. You need your school, because nobody can ever take that away from us. Seeing you guys here, I’m thankful you guys are here to show support for the whole Latino culture because we really need it."
More than 27,000 DACA recipients are in North Carolina, and ninety-five percent of them are either working or in school. But according to Indivisible’s Nilophour Cotour, they are more than just immigrant statistics.
“They’re in our schools, our work places, they’re our friends, our classmates and our neighbors. We are here today because we are morally outraged by this admin decision to end DACA. They’re Americans in their hearts and minds in every single way but on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides ours—besides English.”
One such recipient is 24-year-old Karla Mendoza, originally of South Carolina, who came to the U.S. when she was just eight months old.
“I am undocumented, and unafraid.”
“People are uneducated on what we have to go through everyday, not just us as DACA recipients, but our fathers, our mothers, our siblings, worrying every single day about us. I always got that constant worry at the back of my mind. Are they gonna get home? Will they be pulled over? Is ICE gonna pick them up?”
DACA allayed many of Mendoza’s fears. She currently works in the region offering free healthcare to some 800 undocumented workers in six Western North Carolina counties. She says many of them are now afraid, and says the Trump administration’s recent decision was ill-advised.
“Yesterday that was taken away. They pulled us out of the shadows, offering this protection for us. It’s going to be okay. You’re working hard. We see you, that you want to get an education and we’ve provided that opportunity through DACA.”
Nevertheless, Mendoza and other event organizers are promising future events, and remain undeterred.
“Coming from Charlotte, where there’s a huge Hispanic population and a lot of div, theres alwayts huge turnout for events like this. Being here and seeing this turnout, I was pleasantly surprised that there are students that will turn out and show their support. There are undoc families here in WNC, as well as DACA students. The lack of resources def effects how much ppl want to reach out, and talk about these topics, because if they live in a very cons area theyre gonna feel a lot of fear and anxiety.”
So far, Macon County progressive group Forward Franklin and Indivisible of Swain County are planning demonstrations against Trump’s decision throughout this weekend. For BPR News, I’m Davin Eldridge.