Rose Gelfand ‘21
Mel Gilcrest ‘19
Many students, faculty and community members came and shared their personal stories, representing themselves as well as different clubs and community organizations, including the Improving Dreams, Equality, Access and Success club (IDEAS), the College Community Action Network (CCAN), and the DEFEND Movement in the Inland Empire. Professor Gilda Ochoa, from the Pomona College Chicana/o Latina/o Studies Department, spoke on the United States’ history of colonization and slavery; rallying the crowd, she stated that “what we’re witnessing today has long roots, but our roots of resistance are longer and stronger.” Undocumented student representatives told their own stories of survival and resistance, asking the crowd to remember and acknowledge those who don’t make it past the gates of higher education. Pomona professor Guadalupe Vacio urged the assembly to “ask yourself, what is your responsibility as a citizen of this diverse world? How are you going to use your personal resources in order to help all of us?”
People came to the rally for a variety of reasons. Camila Morales-Jimenez, a freshman from Scripps College, said, “I came because I wanted to see who was an ally. Who I could really talk to about this kind of stuff on campus.
Also just to see what I can look forward to in terms of the activist community, and those who support children of immigrants or immigrant children or undocumented children...It’s definitely an issue that impacts a lot of students that you may not know are undocumented.”
The crowd’s small size and lack of administrative presence was challenged by one speaker, a student from CGU: “It’s great to see students and faculty here, but what we need is the folks at the top. We need our college presidents out here. We’re not in a bubble! We are all together in this struggle.”
Representatives from IDEAS and CCAN urged students to get involved with advocacy work on campus. CCAN had two booths on each side of the stage, where they were raising money to cover local high school DACA students application fees. Partnering with Uncommon Good and the Pomona Day Labor Center, CCAN is co-hosting a fundraising event on September 22nd for DACA students unable to afford the $495 DACA application fee. They are also hosting two clinics for undocumented / DACA students and community members: a DACA registration clinic on September 23rd and a Know Your Rights legal clinic on October 21st. Shayok Chakraborty, co-founder of CCAN, urged students and community members to help by volunteering at events and donating money for legal aid. You can donate to the CCAN DACA fund by venmo-ing @Daca-Legal-Clinic. Ultimately, the Immigrant Justice rally called in the whole community, urging those there to both take action and to ask those who did not show up to join in the fight--not just the fight to protect DACA, but for the rights of all undocumented folks, immigrants, and people of color.