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Student-run phonathon calls Congress regarding DACA repeal

Emily Anderson
Contributing Writer

On Sept. 5 last year, the Trump administration announced that it was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides amnesty for undocumented immigrants in the United States, many of whom came to the country with their parents as children. The termination of this program, as well as Temporary Protection Status (TPS), in many cases is alarming for undocumented immigrants who would be deported. This is particularly true for El Salvadoran immigrants, whose country of origin is wrought with rampant violence.

Since Sept. 5, Congress has been deliberating to come up with an immigration plan before March 5, when DACA permits expire. Despite the immediacy of the issue at hand as the deadline draws closer, Congress members cannot come up with an agreement, and have rejected four bills in the last two weeks that would seek to resolve the matter at hand.

Last Thursday Feb. 22, Sara Onitsuka ’18, Monét Davis ’19 and Minerva Vidaurrazaga Serrano ’18 took part in organizing a phonathon, where College of Wooster students gathered together in Babcock basement to call and write to their representatives, and to urge them to make a decision regarding DACA and TPS status for undocumented immigrants. The goal of the phonathon was to provide a space in which students could learn the vocabulary to speak with their representatives as well as learn the means to contact them.

“I think this gives students the ability to project their voice,” said Davis. “I feel like a lot of people feel like they don’t have the power to persuade their elected representatives. [The phonathon] gives students a place to gather, sit down and just call their representatives.”

The general atmosphere in the room was quiet but positive. Some students sat in groups around tables, writing the names and addresses of countless Congress members on postcards, while others retreated to far corners to personally call their offices. Everyone was working in some way, coming together for one common goal ­— to get Congress moving. The phonathon, more than anything, was a way to engage students in their civic responsibility to physically contact their representatives when they seek change. Often as students, we get caught up in our own lives, forgetting just how easy it is to participate in policy that affects so many. In the last year of the Trump administration, many students have expressed an incredible amount of frustration, knowing that they want to make their voices heard, but not being entirely sure how to do so.

“We found that a lot of people want to be engaged and involved, and we wanted to remind people that this is still going on,” said Onitsuka. Vidaurrazaga Serrano agreed, saying, “I feel like a lot of times, students don’t know where to start, so giving them a step-by-step process makes it a lot easier for people to know how to participate.”

It’s difficult to say whether Wooster’s phonathon was successful on its own, but for the organizers, the main goal was to get students to show up and show out, which they did in masses.

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