In Philadelphia, DACA lives and the fighting continues
On the morning of September 5th, officials and organizers gathered together to stand in solidarity and to speak out against DACA’s grim future in front of the Department of Justice, followed by a march outside of I.C.E’s new Philadelphia headquarters.
A press release from Juntos (the community-led, Latinx immigrant organization based in South Philadelphia), on the morning of September 5th began with an ambiguous statement: The future of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) could go one of two ways.
Before the fate of 800,000 DREAMers was sealed by a press conference held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions (who arrantly reckoned the Obama-era program as “unconstitutional”), members of Juntos, Philadelphia’s immigrant community, DACA recipients, organizers, elected officials, and allies came together at 10AM- outside of the Department of Justice -to fervidly outcry the possibility of an end to DACA. There, they gave personal witness testimonies, they admonished the Trump administration and Trump’s crooked cronies in Harrisburg, and to fiercely march underneath the glaring September sun towards the new Philly HQ for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on 7th and Arch Street.
Over fifty people, of all races and ages, gathered with striking signage and hand-painted banners as they stood and listened to speeches from Juntos leaders Erika Almiron and Olivia Vazquez, Councilwoman Helen Gym, State Representative Chris Rabb, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Union President Jerry Jordan, Councilwoman Maria D. Quiñones-Sánchez, and Larry Krasner for District Attorney. The rally opened with a touching sentiment calling for unity and the end of white supremacy from Reverend Robert Hynicka of Arch Street United Methodist, and ended with chants, heavily eagle-eyed by hordes of bulletproof-vested police in bikes and vans.
While the unanimous motif of the demonstration was to offer support and a firm stance for the human value and dignified worth of DREAMers in this nation (and immigrant families in general), there was no sense of false hope or distorted optimism in the crowd. Although, the announcement from Sessions had not yet happened and the DACA decision was still looming in limbo, this morning’s talks by officials and organizers affirmed that securing DACA’s safeguards was only one of many steps in the fight to resist against- as President Obama worded it in his Facebook statement -the indecent and cruel governmental policies of the Trump administration.
Because Philadelphia is a sanctuary city (which, again, was staidly scorned as unconstitutional and “victimizing” by Sessions last month), elected members of City and State seats- as well as members of the community -called into question how we can better the ways that we provide refuge and resources to citizens who may feel they constantly run the risk of being deported. Councilwoman Helen Gym gave an adrenalized stance on bringing all persons of color and immigrant into this fight for resistance, while plugging in one of her latest and most controversial ambitions: removing figures of white supremacy from Philadelphia, while State Representative Chris Rabb gave a moving account of being “surrounded by assassins” in Harrisburg (alluding to representatives that vote for discriminatory policies), admonishing some of his fellow Democrats for being too submissive in the face of racism.
As the march winded down, and the DACA program was officially condemned to teeter on the brink of extinction on major news outlets, the spirit of opposition and collaboration amongst the protestors only gained more vigor. Though the length of the aforementioned lucha is hazy, one detail about the fight remains apparent: Philadelphia will put up a tough one.