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'I need you to be here with me': OU students, alumni hold walkout supporting DACA ahead of Supreme Court case

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Home Is Here (copy)

Students walk down the South Oval during the "Home is Here" campaign march for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status programs Nov. 8.

More than one hundred people carrying signs marched on the South Oval before a Supreme Court decision that could affect OU students.

OU community members participated in a walkout in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals at Evans Hall on Nov. 8.

The walkout, part of a statewide "Home is Here" campaign hosted in part by Oklahoma nonprofit Dream Action Oklahoma, comes before a Nov. 12 Supreme Court oral argument considering whether President Donald Trump has the power to end the Obama-era initiative and whether it was implemented correctly, the Dallas Morning News reported.

DACA allows some unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the United States as children protection from deportation and renewable two-year work permits.

OU student and College Democrats of Oklahoma president Tasneem Al-Michael said at the walkout that the fight for DACA is a fight for the lives of DACA recipients and undocumented immigrants, and the fight is for all people of color, not just DACA recipients.

“Congress refuses to listen to us,” said Latinx studies senior Ruth Viridiana Cruces Peña. “They refuse to acknowledge our lives as an actual person and not just a number. This is not OK. I am done with this, and the fact that it's 2019, (and) we're still fighting to keep this.”

The group gathered at Dale Hall and marched through campus to Evans Hall, chanting phrases such as, “Undocumented, unafraid,” “This is what community looks like” and “We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

“(We’re) showing our campus we're here, and this is our home,” Peña said. “We're here to stay. For me, my home has been here since 2001. And so, it's really important to keep a program like this.”

Dream Action Oklahoma member and OU alumna Brenda Lozano said similar walkouts took place at universities and other schools Friday. Lozano said the walkouts were held because, though many professors and teachers support the fight for DACA, “higher-ups” believe the fight is “too political.”

“That's where we come in,” Lozano said. “We need to continue to come in, not just for today, not just for the next rally. “Because this is just one action, but it is the start of something that we want to instill in this institution because we need resources for our own undocumented immigrants at this university.”

Lozano said during the event that Oklahoma made history Nov. 8 by having the most university and high school student bodies walk out.

“(There is) no other state that I would rather be at than to watch that change happen right here ... because my home is right here,” Lozano said. “Because when I step on the ground, this is my home. And this is your home, and this is our home. And I'm tired of the white man telling me it's not my home.”

Al-Michael said the walkout was for students to stand together for DACA.

“For me, this is about justice,” Al-Michael said. “This is about deliverance. This is about morality. This is about our humanity. I'm asking you to be more than just my friend. I'm asking you to be more than just my ally, right? I need you to be here with me.”

Those who can vote should vote for other communities who do not have that voice or option, Peña and Al-Michael said.

“I need you to be an activist,” Al-Michael said. “I need you to be an accomplice. I need you to be an ally. I need you to be here. I need you to show up. I need you to be here to put yourself on the line.”

The walkout came after another student demonstration was held on OU’s campus Nov. 7. A group of students held a sit-in at interim OU President Joseph Harroz’s office in protest of OU policies that affect global climate change. 

The group of students participating in the climate strike remained in Harroz’s office for roughly three hours until they were able to set up meetings with multiple university leaders, which are scheduled for Nov. 11.

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