Notes From a DACA Protest:
 A Gaping Wound, Fighting Spirit, and Potential for November 4

September 13, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


In the days after the Trump/Pence regime announced it was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), had the chance to speak to a number of DACA recipients (“Dreamers”) and their supporters—immigrants and non-immigrants. Most of the conversations took place as we were marching through the streets of Queens, New York, at a protest against ending DACA and in support of the Dreamers.

A number of things stood out. First, the cold-blooded declaration on Tuesday, September 5, ending DACA, was—and remains—a profound shock, one that literally threatens to rip up their lives, their families, their hopes, and their futures. “At that moment I wanted to cry because of all those things that I’ve accomplished and now it’s gone,” Martin, a Dreamer in the U.S. for 21 years, told me. “I was speechless. I didn’t know what to say. I was in shock. I was having mixed emotions. I didn’t know what to feel. I was scared,” Daniel, another Dreamer, said.

“Tuesday was a day I didn’t want to hear it, it broke my wife’s and my heart, we were super sad,” Carlos, a Dreamer from Ecuador, now a teacher, said. “We didn’t even eat that night. We cried for about two hours. We really needed DACA to be able to work, that’s the only thing we used DACA for, to work. It was totally a very dark day when Trump decided to say no. Very, very sad.”

Maria, another young Latina who’s a citizen, said: “I was really upset because when we grew up, I never saw America how it is right now.... I am really scared for immigrants now. I have no words for [the Trump/Pence regime], it’s just really awful seeing someone bullying toward people who can’t defend themselves.” Regina, a “child of immigrants” from the Caribbean, said DACA “was always temporary—not a solution—but to have it undone so quickly, so dramatically, it’s terrible.”

These words were spoken with deep, raw feeling.

Defiance, Determination and Hope

All expressed determination to fight to protect the Dreamers and reverse Trump’s DACA decision—even after having experienced such a body blow. Often this seemed driven by hope, given the fact that DACA had been won, and what they felt they’d accomplished when given the chance. But there was also the fact that people did not feel ashamed or defensive about being immigrants or undocumented.

Martin captured a lot of this: “I’m a Dreamer, I’m also Mexican, and I’m undocumented. Ending DACA was just racism from the beginning.... I was thinking we haven’t done nothing wrong. We’ve given back to the community. It’s a two way, not a one way. Dreamers are working hard and giving back to the community. Just a few papers don’t define who I am...

“We feel betrayed, disappointed, and I was depressed. We’re going to fall but we’re going to get back up, and we’re going to fight. I was scared coming out of the shadows saying I’m undocumented, I’m a Dreamer and I’m here. But DACA gave me the bravery to come out and tell everyone. I’m undocumented, I’m also gay, also Mexican—everything! It’s not easy being undocumented, being Mexican and being gay.... DACA gave me the strength to come out and be who I am...

“Because coming out of the shadows, we’re not going back into the shadows. We’re Latinos, we’re always strong, we always overcome every obstacle and this is one of the obstacles we have to overcome.”

Byron, a Dreamer whose parents are from Ecuador: “I’m here because of a single reason—to save our lives. It’s hard to be an immigrant here, because basically the system doesn’t care about us. If we don’t have a number [documentation] we’re nobody for the government. And that’s the reality and it is hard. This [having DACA] is how we get food, this is how we survive every single day, that’s why we’re fighting back. I got here when I was eight years old, basically here my entire life. I’m in college right now and I’m trying to open my own business, that’s one of my dreams and I want that dream to happen one day.”

The Two Sides of Hope

People want to continue to fight, but overwhelmingly see that in terms of continuing to protest, rally the public, and pressure Congress and elected officials to maintain DACA. A lot of their thinking and hopefulness, it seemed, came from feeling Latinos and Dreamers had made “progress” under Obama, so that continuing to pressure and work within the system’s channels could still work now.

“Like I was telling everyone, just show up at rallies, show support for every action we’re going to have to defend DACA,” Martin said. “We’re Dreamers, we’re still going to fight even if we have to go on strikes every day, go before city council, call everyone in the government so we can get some solutions.... Just like the Women’s March with thousands of people marching around the country, I feel like if that happened with the Women’s March and it had a big impact with everyone talking about it, so I think the same thing could happen with DACA.”

Daniel: “It’s going to take a lot [to reverse this attack], I don’t know what and how long but I know something better is going to happen out of this.” Regina: “The response has been amazing. There’s been a lot of support from everyone. We have to fight for the gains we’ve won in the past and get further.”

Byron: “But if the system, if Congress doesn’t do it, I don’t know how we’ll do it. Everything is in God’s hands.” And without missing a beat he continued, “Everyone needs to go into the streets and protest against this cruelty, I’m still shocked, basically. We don’t know what to do. That’s why I’m here because we’re fighting back. And I’ll keep fighting. If I have to go to Washington I’ll go. I got to go protest to Congress to help us because our dreams have to come true. We want a better country for all of us. We deserve a better country, not to be the worst but to be the best country, and we’re here to help.”

November 4 and Challenges We Face

The 800,000 Dreamers, and the millions of family members, friends, and other immigrants being attacked, demonized, and terrorized by this regime, as well as the millions who sympathize with their plight, are a key and very important force to draw forward into the battle for November 4. They’re directly experiencing the horrors this regime is inflicting on humanity—and driving this fascist regime from power is crucial now.

Word of Refuse Fascism and November 4 was being spread throughout the crowd and there was real openness to “Trump and Pence Must Go!” One Dreamer spoke to the similarities between Hitler and Trump:

I believe [Trump’s] opening a great, I would say, civil war, with whatever he’s been doing since he started his campaign. It’s very, very bad against everyone, not only against Latinos or Dreamers but everybody else. I believe there’s going to be another war because of his hatred, and yes—definitely Hitler is Trump. Even if you’re not a Dreamer you could come out to protest because there are a lot of things going on in the United States, nothing like before.

Drawing forward and unleashing the Dreamers, immigrants, and their supporters to be a driving and dynamic element of building toward November 4 poses big challenges for those fighting to drive the fascist Trump/Pence regime from power. Even as they continue to march and protest, the Dreamers, their supporters, and the broad numbers of immigrants must take the step to joining the movement to demand This Nightmare Must End, The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go, In the Name of Humanity We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America.

This will take a lot of wrestling and struggling with them about the nature of this regime, the dead-end of working through normal channels and protest-as-usual, and about the history and nature of America itself.

This will be highly contradictory terrain all the way through. There needs to be struggle, and people need to be organized into Refuse Fascism and/or the Revolution Club and become links and levers to the broader Dreamer/immigrant community. had the opportunity to speak to a Latin American immigrant who had come to the U.S. with her parents as an infant, is now a citizen, and is volunteering with Refuse Fascism. She was deeply angered by the ending of DACA: “I almost couldn’t do my job. It felt like somebody stabbed me with a knife in the chest. I’m a U.S. citizen, but I know what it’s like to be an immigrant. I know what it’s like not to get an opportunity when you’re an undocumented immigrant. It’s about compassion and empathy for those who are struggling today. So we feel the pain.”

Seeing echoes of Hitler was one reason she was working with Refuse Fascism: “Trump won the campaign by criticizing Mexicans. But it’s not just Mexicans but the whole Latino community. He rose to power like that and you compare it to Hitler and we’re going toward that path... unless we stop it.... With this administration they really, really want to get rid of people of color.... When I look at the history of Jewish people—when you see the slogan ‘Never Again’—and you see it happening again, I want to let Jewish people know their stories should not go in vain.

“We have potential on November 4, but people have to participate, not just rah, rah, not just talk,” she summed up. “It depends on them..., If we grab their attention through visual communication we can make it work, reach out to religious institutions, places of entertainment, bars, and grab people’s attention.”



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