COC students, staff rally together to ‘Defend DACA’

By Christina Cox

Last update: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Juan Flores, a student at College of the Canyons (COC), remembers exactly where he was when he heard that the Trump Administration decided to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

“I was actually in my house.  I had just got home from work,” said Flores, who is a DACA recipient.  “I was really just shocked, I didn’t know what to do so that night I did not sleep at all.  So many questions were running through my head that I didn’t know what to expect, I still don’t know what to expect.”

In 2000, at the age of 2, Flores was brought to the United States from Mexico by his parents.  The family of three moved to the U.S. to find a better life and fulfill the American Dream.

“From my parents’ perspective, we [immigrants] come because we have a better opportunity to live better,” he said.  “This is my home.  This is where I’ve been since I was a little kid.  I grew up watching English television going to elementary school to high school only speaking English.”

Flores was among dozens of COC students and staff who rallied together Wednesday to educate the campus community about the impact of the proposed changes to the DACA program and send a message of support to those in the DACA community.

The #DefendDACA event was organized in a little less than a week and was co-sponsored by the Associated Student Government (ASG), the Model United Nations Club and International Service and Programs.

“There’s so much misinformation about DACA recipients and immigration in this country and in this valley,” ASG President Devon Miller said.  “We wanted to give students a platform to get the correct information.  That was the biggest thing.”

Miller stressed that the rally was not an anti-Trump event, but was a pro-DACA and pro-student event to educate the campus community and dispel some of the myths surrounding DACA.

“These people came here when they were very young.  It is the American Dream, the American Ideal to let these people stay here, get an education, get a job,” Miller said.  “Zero percent of these DACA recipients are criminals, 91 percent have jobs, 91 percent pay taxes and contribute to our society.”

California is the state with the most DACA recipients, with a fourth, or 200,000, Dreamers living, working or studying in the state.

“I can guarantee you that you sit in a classroom or sat in a classroom with a DACA recipient so they could be your co-worker, they could be your neighbor.  They are, for all intents and purposes, American,” Political Science Professor Nicholas Hernandez said.

College of the Canyons students hold signs supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals as they listen to speakers at a rally for the policy in th Honor Grove on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Phil Gussin, political science professor and faculty advisor for the Model United Nations, said the conversation about DACA must continue to protect friends, classmates and family members who could be affected by the policy change before the end of the school year.

“While some people talk about DACA in terms of policy, it’s not a debate for DACA students,” Gussin said.  “It’s life and death and it’s a threat that the only country you’ve ever known talking about deporting you or deporting your parents.”

Breanny Andrade, a COC alumna who is transferring to University of California San Diego, said she personally understands the fears of DACA students as the daughter of immigrants.

“Growing up I was always told these stories and was in awe of the struggle they went through,” Andrade said.  “I know that there isn’t anything that separates me from someone else, a citizen or someone who was not born here, someone who had no option and deserves the same opportunities as I.”

The #DefendDACA event also worked to dispel myths surrounding DACA recipients and inform students about services available to them at the Student Health and Wellness Center and through the International Service and Programs.

“DACA students are not international students, DACA students are domestic students, they’re Santa Clarita Valley students,” said Tim Honedal, assistant director of International Services and Programs.

It also provided attendees with information from immigration attorney Floyd Fernandez who described various pathways to citizenship through processes like a U Visa and Section 245(i).

“It was powerful, just to see students share their stories with other students who may have been affected,” Miller said.  “We didn’t get a DACA student to speak unfortunately because they are being silenced out of fear and out of anxiety.”

Although Flores did not speak at the #DefendDACA rally, he chose to share his voice after the event to fight for his rights and not live in the shadows.

“For me I see it in a different way.  I’m in fear but I want to be out there to promote that I’m fighting for my rights, I’m fighting for what I believe in,” Flores said.  “I’m here for my dream, this is my dream.  My whole life depends on this.”

ccox@signalscv.com
661-287-5575
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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COC students, staff rally together to ‘Defend DACA’

FILE PHOTO: College of the Canyons students hold signs supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals as they listen to speakers at a rally for the policy in th Honor Grove on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Juan Flores, a student at College of the Canyons (COC), remembers exactly where he was when he heard that the Trump Administration decided to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

“I was actually in my house.  I had just got home from work,” said Flores, who is a DACA recipient.  “I was really just shocked, I didn’t know what to do so that night I did not sleep at all.  So many questions were running through my head that I didn’t know what to expect, I still don’t know what to expect.”

In 2000, at the age of 2, Flores was brought to the United States from Mexico by his parents.  The family of three moved to the U.S. to find a better life and fulfill the American Dream.

“From my parents’ perspective, we [immigrants] come because we have a better opportunity to live better,” he said.  “This is my home.  This is where I’ve been since I was a little kid.  I grew up watching English television going to elementary school to high school only speaking English.”

Flores was among dozens of COC students and staff who rallied together Wednesday to educate the campus community about the impact of the proposed changes to the DACA program and send a message of support to those in the DACA community.

The #DefendDACA event was organized in a little less than a week and was co-sponsored by the Associated Student Government (ASG), the Model United Nations Club and International Service and Programs.

“There’s so much misinformation about DACA recipients and immigration in this country and in this valley,” ASG President Devon Miller said.  “We wanted to give students a platform to get the correct information.  That was the biggest thing.”

Miller stressed that the rally was not an anti-Trump event, but was a pro-DACA and pro-student event to educate the campus community and dispel some of the myths surrounding DACA.

“These people came here when they were very young.  It is the American Dream, the American Ideal to let these people stay here, get an education, get a job,” Miller said.  “Zero percent of these DACA recipients are criminals, 91 percent have jobs, 91 percent pay taxes and contribute to our society.”

California is the state with the most DACA recipients, with a fourth, or 200,000, Dreamers living, working or studying in the state.

“I can guarantee you that you sit in a classroom or sat in a classroom with a DACA recipient so they could be your co-worker, they could be your neighbor.  They are, for all intents and purposes, American,” Political Science Professor Nicholas Hernandez said.

College of the Canyons students hold signs supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals as they listen to speakers at a rally for the policy in th Honor Grove on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Phil Gussin, political science professor and faculty advisor for the Model United Nations, said the conversation about DACA must continue to protect friends, classmates and family members who could be affected by the policy change before the end of the school year.

“While some people talk about DACA in terms of policy, it’s not a debate for DACA students,” Gussin said.  “It’s life and death and it’s a threat that the only country you’ve ever known talking about deporting you or deporting your parents.”

Breanny Andrade, a COC alumna who is transferring to University of California San Diego, said she personally understands the fears of DACA students as the daughter of immigrants.

“Growing up I was always told these stories and was in awe of the struggle they went through,” Andrade said.  “I know that there isn’t anything that separates me from someone else, a citizen or someone who was not born here, someone who had no option and deserves the same opportunities as I.”

The #DefendDACA event also worked to dispel myths surrounding DACA recipients and inform students about services available to them at the Student Health and Wellness Center and through the International Service and Programs.

“DACA students are not international students, DACA students are domestic students, they’re Santa Clarita Valley students,” said Tim Honedal, assistant director of International Services and Programs.

It also provided attendees with information from immigration attorney Floyd Fernandez who described various pathways to citizenship through processes like a U Visa and Section 245(i).

“It was powerful, just to see students share their stories with other students who may have been affected,” Miller said.  “We didn’t get a DACA student to speak unfortunately because they are being silenced out of fear and out of anxiety.”

Although Flores did not speak at the #DefendDACA rally, he chose to share his voice after the event to fight for his rights and not live in the shadows.

“For me I see it in a different way.  I’m in fear but I want to be out there to promote that I’m fighting for my rights, I’m fighting for what I believe in,” Flores said.  “I’m here for my dream, this is my dream.  My whole life depends on this.”

ccox@signalscv.com
661-287-5575
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

About the author

Christina Cox

Christina Cox

Christina Cox is a multimedia journalist covering education, community and breaking news in the Santa Clarita Valley. She joined The Signal as a staff writer in August 2016.

  • Brian Richards

    Isn’t a shame that a large group of non-citizens have special rights that citizens don’t have? Are there any laws that I, a citizen, can flaunt without consequences? We have a taxpayer supported institution that is basically saying it’s ok to ignore the law as long as they stand to profit from it.

  • Dirk McGivens

    It is a crime that an American College that takes money from the Government that Americans pay taxes for WONT defend America, WTF is going on. America Welcomes LEGAL Immigrants ONLY. Illegals have NO RIGHTS IN AMERICA

  • Ron Bischof

    Nothing in this article or the quotes from rally attendees addresses the core issue. The Executive Order by former President Obama is unconstitutional and violates the separation of powers. There’s a pending lawsuit on DACA by dozens of states.

    Sunsetting that Executive Order gives time for Congress to address the issue Constitutionally and defers a court loss on DACA that will occur as surely as the Obama Administration lost DAPA.

    Read the facts here:

    https://pjmedia.com/trending/2017/09/05/ways-daca-violates-rule-law/

    Appeals to emotion and consequences aren’t a substitute for the rule of law.

  • Anthony Breznican

    I’m so proud of these students for standing up for these DREAMers. Makes me happy to live in a community where this generosity is the norm, rather than the few loud naysayers. America is the land of opportunity, and many of our families came here the same way. Now I hope Steve Knight will join with fellow moderates to clear a pathway to full citizenship for them. The only thing standing in the way is a willingness to act.

    • Dirk McGivens

      These people should be deported and banned for entering the US Illegaly, you don’t reward law breakers. Millions of others have LEGALLY immigrated to the US and we welcome them so why cant they?

      • Anthony Breznican

        I guess because the majority of Americans don’t want them deported. They want to welcome them and give them a chance because they were children and didn’t have a choice. (Similar to how Trump thought Arpaio’s violent crimes should be forgiven, even though the court ruled that he broke the law — and of course, he was a grown man who knew full well what he was doing.) So the majority is asking congress to give these DREAMer folks a path to citizenship.

        Demonstrations like the one in this article send a message to representatives like Steve Knight about how the majority of this Democratic-leaning district would like him to cast his ballot. Not you, of course, but you are in the minority, nationally speaking and probably locally, too (although there isn’t polling on that.) Still, good that you are sharing your opinion.

        • Ron Bischof

          I’d posit the majority of the protesters would prefer Obama’s unconstitutional DACA Executive Order remain in effect.

          Also, what’s with “Democratic-leaning” and how is that quantified? Every statistic I’ve ever read posted by a partisan like yourself ignores independents who don’t vote for Leftists.

          It’s appropriate and Constitutional that Congress address our dysfunctional immigration system.

  • Gary Bierend

    ““I can guarantee you that you sit in a classroom or sat in a classroom with a DACA recipient so they could be your co-worker, they could be your neighbor. They are, for all intents and purposes, American,” Political Science Professor Nicholas Hernandez said.”

    This is the caliber of “professor” that is teaching our kids. What astounding ignorance.

    • Dirk McGivens

      Being here Illegally is not an “American” why should law breaks get special treatment. Would you give special treatment to a car thief or a burglar? No they are breaking the law 100%

      • Gary Bierend

        Exactly.

  • Anthony Breznican

    Remarkable video accompanying this story. Austin Dave is a great multi-media reporter. Captures the story beautifully. I hope these stories show the truth of what’s happening, and that our congressman, Steve Knight, votes to give these Americans a path to documentation. And they are Americans — raised here since childhood, this is their home, the land they know, the country they love. Good kids trying to do right.

    America is a place of generosity and the majority of Americans want the DREAMers to be granted a path to full citizenship. In fact, 73 percent want them to be protected.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/13/dreamers-daca-citizenship-poll-242630