Vibrant posters juxtaposed the scintillating sandstone of the Capitol building on Saturday, Sept. 9, as Boiseans rallied in support of over 3,000 recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in Idaho.
The rally was Boise’s first movement in the wake of a statement issued by President Trump on Tuesday, Sept. 5 declaring the end of DACA. Initiated in 2012 by the Obama Administration, DACA allows children who entered the country illegally under the will of their parents to live without fear of deportation. The objective of the rescindment, according to Trump’s official statement, is to create immigration reform that prioritizes American jobs and security.
The end of DACA will not be immediate, as the president is seeking to subtly phase out the program, rather than cut it off at its base. Though new applications for work permits will be denied, any permits currently in effect will be honored until their expiration dates–up to two years from Sept. 5, 2017.
Trump’s action gives Congress an opportunity to take DACA under its wing and push forward immigration reform. In light of these events, some Boiseans are calling the community into action.
Fructoso Basaldua, a senior sociology major and DACA advocate, believes a movement is needed to show recipients they are valued at Boise State, in the aftermath of a decision that could give an alternative impression.
“I would hope more Boise State students would become more politically active in support of ‘DACA-mented’ students here on campus. They deserve just as much freedom, liberty and rights as the students who are citizens,” Basaldua said.
The political initiative sought by Basaldua was partially satisfied by a statement made by President Bob Kustra on Tuesday. The issuance, sent to students mere hours after Trump’s, was a promise to support DACA students and a declaration of cultural acceptance in higher education.
“Boise State will always stand as a beacon of greater cultural understanding through education and be a place of respect for others,” Kustra wrote, in what seems to be an unambiguous show of assistance for DACA recipients at the university.
“For me to be satisfied–and to symbolize to undocumented students that Boise State is their university and this is a place for them and a community that accepts them–I would hope to see Kustra’s words from that letter translated into actions,” Basaldua said.
A parallel statement was released by Boise State’s Inclusive Excellence Student Council (IESC) and the Associated Students of Boise State University (ASBSU), announcing their solidarity with DACA recipients.
“We believe in a world where everyone is able to access education, employment, and basic human needs that include healthcare, safe(r) communities, a united family, and food regardless of their documentation status,” the statement said.
The words of support from Kustra, ASBSU and the IESC are a step in the right direction, according to Francisco Salinas, director of Student Diversity and Inclusion. Speaking unequivocally about social issues is the role of society’s leaders, Salinas claims.
“I was very proud our president issued that statement,” Salinas said. “It is an unqualified statement of support for our students, regardless of their circumstances and it is a commitment to be proactive in prioritizing the educational opportunities for these kinds of students.”
While both Basaldua and Salinas have shown their support for DACA recipients, the two share an openness to the reform this turn of events may bring. According to Salinas, DACA did not fulfill an important underlying need–a comprehensive immigration reform.
“It’s been 30 years since any form of immigration reform was enacted, and that was in 1986. It doesn’t work. It’s flawed,” Basaldua said.
If Congress is able to find a solution that preserves the opportunities given to DACA recipients, instead of closing the doors that had been opened to them when they entered the United States, Basaldua and Salinas could be satisfied.
According to each of them, the power to generate social change lies not only in the hands of Congress, but in the hands of the American people as well–speaking out and getting involved in political discourse and petitions can make an impact.
“One of the things we’re seeing out of reactions and movements in and around the political climate is that people organizing has an effect,” Salinas said. “If we allow somebody else to create our vision of justice for us, it’s because we’re not doing enough to create our own.”