Additional reporting by Yun Liang.
It was a typical Thursday afternoon in Cambridge. Harvard students and professors were hustling in and out of classes while local residents were busy with the course of daily life. At 4:00 PM, 31 professors from Harvard, MIT, Boston College, and Babson College were arrested for blocking traffic along Massachusetts Avenue at a peaceful protest against President Trump’s decision to repeal DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Babson professor Kevin Bruyneel, who teaches in the History and Society Division, was among those arrested. The protesters carried out a planned act of nonviolent civil disobedience to denounce the possible end to an amnesty program that protects 800,000 young unauthorized immigrants from deportation.
What is DACA?
DACA, which stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, is an executive order carried out by the Obama administration that grants temporary legal status to approximately 800,000 young unauthorized immigrants. The program is for children living in the U.S. without documentation who were between 15 and 31 years old as of June 15, 2012, the date when DACA was instated. Applicants were required to have clean criminal records, proof of education from elementary, junior high, and high school or an equivalent program designed to obtain the General Education Diploma, or to be a veteran of the Armed Forces or Coast Guard. Recipients are granted permission to travel, work, study, and have driver’s licenses. DACA was intended as a temporary solution to the DREAM Act, which was proposed in 2001 and came close to passing in 2010. This act would have granted permanent legal status to young immigrants who were brought to America illegally.
What is happening to DACA now?
DACA is being put on pause until March 2018 while Congress decides whether to pass the DREAM act or altogether eliminate any alternatives for immigrants. No new DACA applications will be allowed after September 5, and current DACA recipients have until October 5 to renew their applications for another two years. Renewals are only considered for people whose applications expire between now and March 5. The government will also allow two-year permits to expire. However, come March, DACA recipients could face deportation. While, according to CNN, immigration officials have said that they do not intend on targeting young immigrants for deportation, without the temporary legal residence provided by DACA, recipients would be subject to removal from the U.S. and ineligible to work legally. In support of his decision, President Trump stated that DACA “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by illegal aliens.” According to a survey conducted by Tom Wong of the University of California, over 93% of DACA recipients above the age of 25 are employed, compared to 78% of all Americans between the ages of 25 and 54.
Interview Feature: Leslie Parra (’19), demonstration attendee
The Babson Free Press: How did you find out about the DACA protest rally?
Leslie Parra: [I found out] by taking Professor Bruyneel’s course Radical Politics Today. In class, he mentioned his plans to protest in Cambridge with other professors from Harvard, MIT, BU, and other institutions. He welcomed students to join.
BFP: How did the protest play out?
LP: Fifteen professors linked arms to block traffic and held signs that said “Education Not Deportation” and “No Ban on Stolen Land.” The organizers of the protest contacted Cambridge Police Department beforehand to notify them of the demonstration. This ensured that things would not get violent. It was a peaceful demonstration with orderly arrests. Prof. Bruyneel intentionally wore a Babson t-shirt to represent Babson College in the media and show the college’s support for all students, whether or not they are undocumented. It also helped that Harvard, a prestigious institution, was the primary organizer behind the demonstration.
BFP: How did you feel when you got there?
LP: It was my first rally. I was comfortable because I saw other Babson students but also because I was supporting an issue bigger than Babson. I didn’t know too much about DACA, but I knew that repealing it was morally wrong. I was fighting for the DACA recipients who didn’t know about the event or were afraid to protest.
BFP: What happened to Professor Bruyneel?
LP: He was peacefully arrested. 31 professors ended up demonstrating (more than the fifteen that were originally planned). He brought 40 dollars in cash to pay for his bail. He was arrested at 5:30 PM and released at 9:00 PM. He had a court day the following week and the charges against him were dropped. No six-month probation.
BFP: How can a Babson Student get involved with social justice issues?
LP: The ONE organization is a great way to get involved with these kinds of issues. We pride ourselves on tackling social issues, sponsoring the Babson Community Forum on DACA along with the Latin American Student Org (LASO). LASO is in solidarity with the Latino community, 500,000 of [whose members] are Latino DACA recipients.