Linfield, McMinnville community reflects on DACA decision

Camille Botello and Angel Rosas

In a moment of vulnerability, a member of the McMinnville community stood to share her feelings towards the current administration and the country as a whole.

The woman addressed the crowd with tears welling in her eyes, saying that “we came here to work and pay taxes like white people.”

Her voice cracked as tears ran down her cheeks, which sent a wave of empathy throughout the audience. “Está impotencia… I don’t know what this country is thinking,” she said.

Voto Latino’s Linfield chapter hosted a community forum in the wake of the Donald J. Trump administration’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. About 130 people gathered at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the Multicultural Center.

Gerardo Ochoa, assistant dean of diversity and community partnerships, and other members of the Linfield community spoke about the importance of self-care in a time of uncertainty.

They reminded students to renew their DACA status as soon as possible and find ways to relieve stress, while Ochoa encouraged everyone to utilize their privileges for good.

People in the crowd were given the opportunity to voice their grievances and show their support for those affected. Many faces in the crowd stared at the ground in disbelief, unable to express their feelings of pure helplessness.

First to volunteer was Voto Latino President April Alvarez, ‘20. She shared how the decision affected her personally stating that to “even function as a human being” was made almost impossible. With the added emotional strain, Alvarez said she was almost unable to plan the event.

Linfield College President Thomas L. Hellie also made an appearance at the discussion.

Early Tuesday morning he sent an all-campus email regarding the DACA decision and sought to provide comfort to students by stating that Linfield will try to protect all students despite their immigration status. At the forum he expressed how he was “disappointed but not shocked” by the news, and encouraged students and community members to “do everything we can to push Congress to make change.”

Jeff Merkley, U.S. Senator for Oregon, wrote a letter specifically to the Linfield and McMinnville community articulating his thoughts about the rollback of DACA. Voto Latino secretary Annika Albrecht, ‘20, read the letter in full at the forum.

Merkley said that the recent decision about DACA is “heartless and short-sighted” for so many people in Oregon and in the United States. He elaborated by saying that with this, the Trump Administration is doing a disservice to these “young Americans that came here through no fault of their own.”  

First enacted by the Obama administration in 2012, the DACA program gave ‘Dreamers,’ or people who were brought to the United States without documentation before the age of 16, protection from potential deportation and employment eligibility.

In the United States, about 800,000 people are on the program, according to the Washington Post, and 11,280 in Oregon alone, reported the Statesman Journal.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave his remarks about the administration’s decision to end the DACA program early on Tuesday morning.

“As the Attorney General, it is my duty to ensure that the laws of the United States are enforced and that the Constitutional order is upheld,” said Sessions, which he shortly followed by saying, “we cannot admit everyone who would like to come here.”

Although many perhaps came to the event with heavy hearts, one piece of advice offered by a community member seemed to linger throughout the night: “Please choose the right people, because you are choosing for your parents and for other people too. Please, fight for all.”