The Los Angeles LGBT Center joined more than 400 people for a passionate yet peaceful “Keep the Dream Act Alive March” on February 3.
“They will go after all of those who are marginalized but we will not let them,” the Center’s policy and operations manager Maria Melo told the crowd after they marched about two miles from Westwood Village near UCLA to the Wilshire Federal Building.
The Center joined forces with the California Dream Network, Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights, UndocBlack Network, UndocuMedia, SEIU Local 2015, and Korean Resource Center for a march and rally calling for a solution to protect the more than 800,000 immigrant youth protected by DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), including nearly 40,000 LGBTQ DACA recipients and their families.
The Republican Administration has been using young immigrants as the bargaining chips to get $25 billion for a border wall along with more enforcement and deportations. They are seeking to protect young immigrants from the threat of being arrested, detained, and deported.
“LGBT people are immigrants, immigrants are LGBT people,” Melo said. “In this country, we all count. We’re here because we heard about a supposed DACA fix that’s really a weapon to pass anti-immigrant laws, to put one community against the other, to separate us, to put parents against children, to pit people from one community against the other. We do not support that.”
Melo was accompanied by more than a dozen members of The Resistance Squad, the Center's volunteer-based rapid response policy team that has been called into action at various times over the past 11 months.
“DREAMers are literally being made political pawns,” squad member Jennifer Rivers said before the march. “We’ve got a president who is literally behaving like a white supremacist and a president who behaves like that really has no business reforming immigration law. It’s a scary time.
“I’m out here because I want to support these folks,” Rivers added. “These are our brothers and sisters, these are our fellow human beings.“
Participants ranging from young children to seniors marched holding signs with such slogans as “Not One More Deportation,” “Immigrants have made America Great,” and “Clean Dream Act Now!”
Speakers also included several DACA recipients who were invited to attend last week’s State of the Union address delivered by Trump in Washington D.C.
“I cannot begin to describe the things I saw,” one female student told the crowd. “I have never been in such a toxic room where my existence was not welcome. I was sitting there taking in Trump’s white supremacist, xenophobic, homophobic hate-infested message being met with applause. I finally understood the real threat that we’re facing. It is beyond anything that we initially imagined.”
While such chants as “Up, up with liberation! Down, down with deportation!” and “Education not deportation!” got the crowd fired up and inspired thumbs up and honks of support from passers-by, speakers made clear much more has to be done. They made a call for action continue resisting and to focus on registering and educating voters.
“We are going to stand together and fight for social justice, fight for immigrants, fight for families,” said Melo. ”We will not stop.”
Activists are calling on people to contact their member of congress to vote “yes” on DREAM Act legislation that does not leave neighbors, classmates, co-workers, caretakers, and others as political collateral.
Go to the Center’s Take Action page to contact your local representative.