About 200 UC Santa Barbara students walked out of class on Monday afternoon in support of undocumented students, urging for immigration reform within the United States and for better resources for undocumented individuals at UCSB.
The protest, organized by UCSB’s Improving Dreams, Equality, Access and Success (I.D.E.A.S.), began at Storke Tower. Students and faculty members then marched through the Arbor walkway to Cheadle Hall, where they briefly walked inside before gathering outside of the building.
“At the end of the day [DREAMERS] are in a prison. We’re in a system that doesn’t allow us to fully exercise our rights and benefit from the things we deserve,” third-year Chicanx studies major Jose Sanchez said.
“I am very proud of our students and community today,” Office of Student Life Associate Director Danielle Quinones said in an email.
She explained that she originally asked students not to enter Cheadle Hall because of the “safety of the participants” due to the building’s “compact” corridors, but later was “proud to hear their voices echo throughout the building.”
Protesters chanted several phrases while marching, including, “Undocumented, unafraid,” “Education, not deportation,” “No ban, no wall, sanctuary for all,” “The people united will never be divided” and “Ain’t no power like the power of the people, because the power of the people don’t stop.”
“I thought I was always part of the same society, but then you realize when you go to school that you don’t have healthcare, you don’t have Medicaid, [and] if queer people get HIV you don’t get money for that either,” Sanchez said.
Protesters also created several signs for the protest, some of which read, “Keep families together,” “No borders, no walls, #end I.C.E.,” “Borders are a lie,” “Here to stay” and “Education not deportation.”
The Federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was scheduled for termination on Monday, but a Supreme Court ruling in late February ensured that current DACA recipients can continue applying for renewals as a University of California lawsuit against the Donald Trump administration continues.
Several signs referenced Congressman Salud Carbajal, stating that he “voted no on DACA” and is “against DREAMERS.”
In January, Carbajal voted for a spending bill that would have prevented a government shutdown over DACA. He later defended his vote as a “good conscience” decision to make sure the Central Coast continued receiving federal disaster relief. He also said protecting DACA recipients was one of his top priorities.
Numerous undergraduate and graduate students and faculty spoke to the crowd, telling their own stories about dealing with immigration within the U.S.
“I am an undocumented grad student, so I’ve been always active,” first-year communications doctoral student Monica Cornejo said. “I think it’s important that we start mobilizing at different institutions to make sure that immigration reforms happens.”
“I want to say the support is for everyone. We have to think of those who died at sea and in the desert to get here,” second-year linguistics major Karina Javier said.
I.D.E.A.S. passed around a petition during the walkout that the group had previously presented to the UCSB administration, calling for the university’s support for the needs of undocumented students.
One of the co-chairs of I.D.E.A.S., who asked to be referred to as Sam, said in an email that the demands include “a permanent, expanded space for undocumented students, an attorney on campus that takes care of undocumented students’ immigrant cases, and a campus wide employment program that does not require a social security number.”
“We want an attorney because of the expected growing need of immigration cases due to expirations of DACA, the abundant ICE raids all across CA and the country, and the unexpectedness of immigration legislation and policies under the current president,” Sam said in an email.
Sam added that I.D.E.A.S. also wants a center on campus “because we want to make sure that undocumented students have a space on campus where they can befriend, network, support, and feel safe.”
“A lot of us feel like we’re not getting the support we need from the university to move on,” fourth-year communication and psychology major Dayanna Yanez said. “We feel like it’s really unstable, the situation we’re in right now and the environment.”
“There’s an anti-immigrant sentiment in this country,” fourth-year sociology and chicano studies double major Alex Gutierrez said. “I think this protest in particular is trying to highlight the fact that it’s not just DACA recipients that are trying to fight for their civil rights, but also undocumented immigrants of all backgrounds.”
Victoria Gurrola and Katie Wolf contributed reporting.