The students came from schools all across Denver. Many marched miles from their respective campuses in long lines that stretched along streets and boulevards. Some chanted. Some held signs. But they were all headed to one location on Tuesday morning: the Tivoli Student Union on the Auraria campus, to protest President Trump's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
As students in Denver marched around 9 a.m., Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a group of reporters, “The program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded.”
The policy change means that nearly 800,000 young immigrants (17,300 of them in Colorado) who were brought into the United States illegally but had received protections from deportation under DACA are now facing an uncertain future. Later on Tuesday, former president Barack Obama issued a statement calling the decision by the Trump administration “cruel,” while also recognizing that the responsibility has shifted to Congress to implement legislation that will protect DREAMers before the DACA program fully terminates six months from now, in March 2018.
Yet students in Denver were defiant. Over a thousand student participants, ranging in age from junior high to college, packed the quad in front of the Tivoli Student Union for the rally, which began at 11:30 a.m.
“President Trump, you said you had a big heart for DREAMers, but we have yet to see that happen,” said one DACA recipient, Ariadma Segura, on a loudspeaker that projected over the sizable crowd.
Later, an organizer with the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, Cristian Solano-Cordova, asked people in the crowd to raise their hands if they were DACA recipients. Dozens of arms shot into the air.
“Look around you,” Solano-Cordova said in recognition of the raised hands. “Fight for them.”
In other speeches, there were stories of how DACA recipients were brought into the United States at a young age, many of the speakers adding that Denver is the only home they've ever known.
There were also different chants including “Sí, se puede,” and “When DACA comes under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!”
Just after 12:30 p.m., school buses arrived to take many of the younger students back to their schools; while part of the morning's activities technically qualified as a “walkout,” skipping class was clearly supported by many teachers and chaperones with Denver Public Schools, which allowed students to participate in exchange for them returning to school after the rally.
As the students lined up for the buses, there were two last chants:
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Even though many of the participants are still too young to vote, they know which representatives from Colorado they need to convince to pass legislation in Washington, D.C., to protect DREAMers before DACA runs out.