Phoenix community celebrates DACA milestone but vows to keep fighting

As people streamed into the Phoenix Metro Tech High School cafeteria, sitting at tables adorned with colorful assortments of confetti and luscious cacti, DJ Ramirez filled the air with La Sonora Dinamita songs.

Everyone was there for DACAversary, an event hosted Saturday by community organizations Living United for Change in Arizona and Arizona Center for Empowerment to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals passing.

It is the policy that grants some immigrants who arrived in the United States as children a work permit and protection from deportation.

The mood was joyful, but organizers made it clear that the event was not just a celebration of a 10-year-old solution, but an ongoing fight for something better.

“It’s been 10 years since we got DACA – something we fought for and something we needed,” said Blanca Collazo, a LUCHA community organizer in East Central Phoenix. “But that’s not what we really deserve. There are still people in the shadows. Our parents were always excluded from DACA. So today we’re here to educate you all, engage you all, and give you all the ways to keep fighting and getting involved for a path to citizenship, which we truly deserve.

DACA does not provide a pathway to citizenship; in fact, the policy implemented by President Barack Obama’s administration is facing a legal challenge. Seven states, led by Texas, challenge the constitutionality of DACA.

“These 10 years have been long, and our people are still constantly being separated, their families being deported,” Collazo said.

After offering insight into the impact of Arizona SB 1070, colloquially known as the “show me your papers” law, the fight for the Dream Act and the passage of DACA, Collazo shared his own history as a DACA recipient. Born in Michoacán, Mexico, she came to the United States when she was 3 years old.

“It wasn’t until 2010 with everything going on with the SB 1070 that it hit me and it broke my family apart,” she said. When she was 9, her grandfather was kicked out on his way to work. “Even though I was so young, I still knew I had lost my grandfather. I would go into the closet and smell his clothes because I missed him and never saw him again after that. he was taken away that morning.

A year later, his grandmother self-deported to be with him. “I still remember when she got in that white van, and she never came back either,” Collazo said.

At 16, after his mother was able to save up for a lawyer, Collazo applied for DACA. Around the same time, she joined LUCHA and became involved in protests and walkouts at her high school. “I was literally the girl who stood up on cafeteria tables and told people what was going on in our communities, and I was super, super shy.”

In 2021 Collazo’s grandfather died of COVID-19. “I still mourn his death because I couldn’t put him to rest,” she said.

“My mom and dad lost loved ones and they also couldn’t go and say goodbye to them. My mom said to me, ‘I wish I could turn into a butterfly so I could fly to Mexico to say goodbye to my mother,” Collazo said in tears.

“That’s why I’m here.”

Immigration Resources Available

Along the back wall of the cafeteria, tables have been set up with a variety of immigration resources. Under a red tent reading “Sus Abogados de Confianza,” the Ybarra Maldonado & Alagha Law Group offered free immigration legal consultations with lawyers.

The Arizona Dream Act Coalition has promoted its study abroad trips to Mexico made possible by early parole – a travel document issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that allows DACA recipients to leave and re-enter the United States for humanitarian, educational, or employment purposes.

This summer, the coalition will accompany more than 100 people through the process of applying for early parole on educational trips to Mexico City, Tijuana, Oaxaca and Cuernavaca. Each month-long trip includes three weeks of independent travel allowing participants to visit family and one week of study abroad activities, including visits to museums, universities, and language courses. Spanish.

“They just call, and we do everything,” coordinator Michael Browder said, referring to the early parole application process. The coalition is currently recruiting participants for its winter trip.

At the next table, the Arizona Center for Empowerment helped American citizens in the crowd register to vote and raise awareness for Proposition 308. This is a 2022 ballot measure that would allow all college graduates high schools in Arizona to qualify for in-state tuition regardless of immigration. status.

Around 11:30 a.m., a line began to form for free food, including a taco bar, aguas frescas, soy chorizo ​​calabacitas, and tofu stir-fry.

While people ate, dancers from the Fiesta Mexicana dance company performed el baile folkórico.

Intricate butterflies – a symbol of immigration and migration and an emblem of the Dreamers movement – decorated cupcakes reading “Happy tenth birthday. We’re here to stay.” Butterflies also adorned the faces and arms of people who stopped by the makeup station.

Vero Garcia painted an image of a young girl with orange butterfly wings reaching for a smaller butterfly against a background filled with people of all ages.

Garcia, a University of Northern Arizona senior and LUCHA team leader, was commissioned by LUCHA to do an artwork on DACA, and for her first painting in front of an audience, she knew she wanted to use the symbol of the butterfly, but more importantly, the image of a young girl.

“For me, the most empowering thing to see is a little girl achieving her dreams,” Garcia said.

‘Here to stay. Here to stay’

Hazel Villatoro graduated from North High School a year early and has been volunteering with LUCHA since February. She and her parents are undocumented and in 2021 she applied for DACA.

“My dad is our only source of income, and he has three kids, and we’re all going to college, so it’s really hard to pay tuition, or even support ourselves,” said Villatoro.

But four months after submitting her DACA request, she received a call from her attorney in September 2021 telling her that all DACA requests had been halted due to the Texas court ruling.

“I was a little upset. I was really looking forward to work. I wanted to help my family and I was really worried about my school fees,” she said. “I want to become an anesthesiologist.”

She is still waiting to hear the status of her DACA application, but thanks to Dream US, she will attend Grand Canyon University on a full scholarship. “I hope the younger generations will be bold enough to fight – to try to achieve what has not yet been done,” she said.

By the end of the event, attorney Ray Ybarra estimated around 20 people had stopped by for free consultations on topics including consular processing, DACA renewals, adjustment of status and asylum. .

But Ybarra said the general consensus was that there weren’t enough options. “They want something more. They want a permanent solution.

Where to get help: Undocumented students struggle to pay for Arizona universities

To close the event, Collazo led everyone in a melodic chant.

“Solid as a rock. Rooted like a tree. We are here. Stand strong. In our rightful place. We are bound to freedom. We are bound to freedom.

“Here to stay. Here to stay. Here to stay. Here to stay.”

Madeleine Parrish covers equity issues for the Arizona Republic. Contact her at [email protected]

Comments are closed.