More than 400 students holding signs and chanting marched Wednesday in downtown Fort Worth, as did TCU students on campus, in protest of the decision by President Donald Trump to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals known as DACA.
“We are here to be the voices for DACA,” said Yesenia Serrato, a student at the downtown protest, which was peaceful and lasted almost two hours before ending about 12:30 p.m.
Students carrying signs with slogans such as “Keep DACA,” “Undocumented Unafraid,” and “United Not Divided” marched around the Tarrant County Courthouse and chanted support for DACA.
Added Papi Salgado of Fort Worth, “I have two sisters who are ‘Dreamers’ ” — what DACA recipients are often called — “and it’s unfair to me what is being done.”
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Many young immigrants on DACA call themselves “Dreamers,” a term that alludes to past legislative efforts for immigration reform that failed in Congress.
The DACA program, which is different from the so-called DREAM Act, was implemented by the Obama Administration in August 2012. The rolling two-year program allowed undocumented immigrants, who were brought to the United States as children, an opportunity to learn and work in the United States without threat of deportation. Recipients typically re-applied for the program as their two years near expiration.
The program has been described by many immigration advocates as a temporary fix that many hoped would lead to a permanent reform that would include paths for legalization for this group of people. The program does not provide a path for citizenship.
The downtown marchers included 75 students from Trimble Tech High School and several from the World Languages Institute, according to Fort Worth school district officials. It was unclear how many students from the Young Women’s Leadership Academy and Carter-Riverside High School were also marching. The three campuses are near downtown.
Many Fort Worth police officers and deputies with the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office also were downtown, along with school district administrators and faculty, and some parents. The protest, which ended about 12:30 p.m., was announced on social media.
Lisbeth Neri and her husband had driven their daughter and two of her friends to the protest. Her daughter “told us about it and we decided we would be here to watch over them,” Neri said while sitting on a bench near the courthouse with her husband.
Some 75 to 100 TCU protesters were marching on campus at about the same time.
“Yesterday’s announcement regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program created a great deal of uncertainty for members of the higher education community, including Texas Christian University,” said a statement, in part, from TCU Chancellor Victor J. Boschini Jr.
A Dreamer who identified herself as Jennifer spoke at the TCU rally, which began at the school’s founders statue outside the library and ended on the steps of the administration building, Sadler Hall.
“It’s hard to hear that the protection I thought I had might not mean anything,” Jennifer said. “At the same time, I’m hopeful that this is the call to action people need. Speak up because [DACA students] can’t speak out.”
Mayra Guardiola, a graduate student who organized the rally, said she has several family members who are DACA recipients. She was pleased with Boschini’s message to students.
“It’s really important that students here on DACA feel that sense of, ‘The school’s got my back,’ ” Guardiola said. “I can’t imagine how hard it must be to come to a place where you feel vulnerable even more. It was important to tell that community, ‘Hey, we’re with you.’ ”
Under DACA, young immigrants obtained work permits and Texas driver’s licenses. Trump rescinded the program with a six-month delay on Tuesday.
Fort Worth district students were encouraged to stay in class, but district officials were prepared to accompany students who walked out to make sure they were safe.
“I think students are anxious and upset,” Superintendent Kent Scribner said Wednesday before the protest. “We understand our students’ passion to have their voices be heard.”