Hundreds of students rally in freezing temperatures to defend DACA

Hundreds of Madison high school and college students gathered at the state capitol to rally to keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, or DACA.

Many of them marched miles in below-freezing temperatures from Madison West and Madison East high schools.

Activists across the country rallied on Tuesday to send a message to the Supreme Court as they heard arguments on the challenges to the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA two years ago.

The program protects nearly 700,000 young Dreamers, including an estimated 8,000 in Wisconsin, from deportation. It also allows undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to be eligible for state licenses and work permits.

“This topic really hits home, specifically because my sister had DACA for about five years, so I just feel like I kind of need to be here,” said high school senior Kimberly Huete. “It’s not just about my sister, it’s about the thousands of people it will affect and I just need to show up and be there and be outspoken and just say what I believe in.”

NOW: Students gather at the Wisconsin State Capitol to ask SCOTUS to protect DACA recipients. #news3now #DefendDACA

— Amanda Quintana (@AmandaQTV) November 12, 2019

She, along with hundreds of others, stood on the steps of the capitol chanting for almost an hour before going inside to hear from legislators, city leaders and DACA recipients.

“I have so many friends that are on DACA and I see them suffer every day because they’re afraid of coming to school and even being outside where they are in their communities,” said East High School student Jasmin Canales-Ruiz.

“I have some cousins that are going to be affected by this if this passes that there’s no DACA anymore, so I’m just here to support them,” said West High School student Micah Anderson.

While some students had a personal reason for being there, many were simply showing their solidarity with the cause.

“We’ve got people from different races. And it’s super important that they’re staying intersectional, not only going to marches when it affects them directly but when it doesn’t,” said Christian Cruz.

Cruz was also collecting names and contact information for Voces de la Frontera so that when next year’s election comes, the organization can offer new voters resources and rides to the polls.

“We have a lot of teenagers turning 18 this year,” said Cruz. “This is where we start – people who care. They’re obviously here in the cold, so these are people who care.”

Following an early-morning tweet from President Donald Trump where he called some DACA recipients, “very tough, hardened criminals,” the group of students were also fighting the idea that undocumented immigrants aren’t improving the community.

“My sister is a teacher in Chicago. She has her master’s degree, graduated from UW Madison. She’s not a criminal. Neither are the thousands of people that are being put in jeopardy if DACA is taken away,” said Huete.

Get your weather forecast from people who actually live in your community. We update with short, easy-to-use video forecasts you can watch on your phone every day. Download the iOS or Android app here.