The DACA program, which provided deferred deportation to 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came into the country when under the age of 16, was enacted by the Obama administration in 2012. Enrollment into the program was not automatic; the application for deferral cost $500 and required a number of forms to be completed.
In addition to New Haven community members, hundreds of Yale students marched from a separate gathering point at Cross Campus to join the rally. One of the rally organizers, Jesus Morales of Unidad Latina en Acción, spoke to the remarkable unity that was on display, saying that he was seeing “the best of not only New Haven, but also Yale.”
Undocumented Yale students were at the action and spoke, sharing a message of hope and defiance. Said Ramón, a second-year Ph.D. student, “We’re asking for justice, we’re going to get justice and we’re going to get it together.” Carlo, an undergraduate, expressed fear, saying “The only place I really consider home is the United States,” but promised that “We don’t know what’s going on, but we do know that we won’t let it happen.”
Having the event at the United Methodist Church was significant: It also marked four weeks since Marco Reyes, an Ecuadorian immigrant, sought sanctuary in the church after receiving a deportation order from ICE. Reyes’s struggle was not forgotten. Closing the rally, Morales said “We’re feeling for our brothers and sisters who had to step out of class because they could not handle their tears. That’s today, but tomorrow, we fight like hell.”
After the rally, the protest turned into a march. First protesters went to City Hall to demand Mayor Toni Harp do everything in the City’s power to defend immigrants, and then on Yale President Salovey’s office to do the same. Marchers took over streets surrounding the New Haven Green, forcing drivers to confront the reality of the violence being inflicted under their noses.
New Haven has a long and vibrant history of activism and action to win and defend rights for immigrants. Hundreds of people came out in New Haven to support its status as a sanctuary city and to stand for sanctuary cities across the nation. The September 5 action is just one part of an increased mobilizing effort across the city to stop deportations and discrimination against immigrants. We call for full rights for all people, regardless of “documentation” status!