Spokane Dream Project hosts “community response” meeting in response to DACA legislation


by Abebaye Bekele|News Editor

In response to the recent announcement from the Trump administration that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protection will be phased out a community response meeting was held on Sunday, September 10 in the intercultural student center.

This event was organized by the Spokane Dream Project, a club that advocates for undocumented students on campus. The meeting was focused on informing people about DACA and threats to DACA.

Sophomore Lacy Nguyen, a co-leader of the Spokane Dream Project, was one of the organizers of this event.

“This event was basically a way for the community to come together and talk about what DACA is and why it got revoked and how it got revoked and what are the implications now for undocumented students nationwide and at Whitworth,” Nguyen said. “How the community can respond in order to support undocumented students and undocumented people in general.”

Event organizers speak at the community response meeting. Photo courtesy of Catalina Corvalan.

The attendees included Whitworth, Gonzaga University and Eastern Washington University students and faculty, people from churches around the area and a other allies of the cause.

ASWU cultural events coordinator and former president of Spokane Dream Project Senior Kamau Chege helped lead the event with the Spokane Dream Project officers.

“I have DACA and I feel that president Trump phasing out the program was outrageous but also un-American,” Chege said. “We all consider ourselves to be American I can’t imagine anything more offensive than to strip protections for your fellow Americans and to put them in danger of being deported.”  

“If you are undocumented in the age of the Trump administration the best way to keep yourself and your family safe is to join an organization to be in community with people who are ready to defend you who will defend you maybe when you get detained who are ready to give you resources you may need,” Chege said.

Undocumented Whitworth students should go to the intercultural student center for resources or talk to the officers of Spokane Dream Project, Nguyen said.  

Senior Carlo Juntilla, student body president at Gonzaga university attended the event.

“I came today because I am passionate about the issue,” Juntilla said. “Also because of my position in leadership I am in a place where I can advocate on a greater scale for our fellow students.”  

The event organizers expected a few people to attend the event but there were more than 50 people in the room, Chege said.

“There are so many people who are ready to defend their immigrant neighbors,” Chege said.

Sam Abbott, resident director in Arend hall was also in attendance.

“Whitworth has a voice in the Spokane community and I think if we use that well we can invite people into this work we are trying to be about,” Abbott said.

The Whitworth community should listen to undocumented students and also do the work that is necessary to better the situation, Nguyen said.

“You can’t just be a social media ally, you have to show up and do the work you have to be there at the protests and making the phone calls,” Nguyen said. “We want to pressure legislators to support a clean dream act bill. We want people to write emails, text messages and make phone calls.”  

The opportunity to learn from these student leaders and seeing what steps are being taken in the community was good, Abbott said.

“Stay educated. Once you know more about issue, the more you care about it,” Juntilla said. “Stay alert and[don’t] be complacent because being complacent is just being compliant with injustice.”

“Some of the best things we can do at a higher profile level is advocating for good legislation that creates an actual solution to a really complex problem,” Abbott said. “Many of us at Whitworth are working together to provide support and care for undocumented students in every way that we can.”

The Spokane Dream Project has more events planned this semester to deal with the uncertainty of DACA. A rally will be held on September 20. Contact Lacy Nguyen at lnguyen20@my.whitworth.edu for more information on this and other Spokane Dream Project events.