Towson’s Latin American Student Organization (LASO) participated in the nationwide movement Wednesday night to claim university campuses throughout the country as sanctuaries for undocumented students and students who reside in the U.S. through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
“We want to let the nation and the community know that we support undocumented students,” said LASO public relations chair Estefany Escobar.
Towson is not a sanctuary campus.
“Students can be fearful every day they go to class that someone can come in and ask them to leave, someone will come in and their entire day will change,” said LASO Vice President Emely Rodriguez.
Before walking out in support of undocumented students and making Towson a sanctuary campus, LASO held a communal meeting with the Black Student Union and invited them to join them in the walkout.
“Trump thinks DACA is the same as the Dream Act. Different universities are doing this so they can stand between Trump and these undocumented students,” Rodriguez said as she addressed LASO and the BSU.
Students from both groups walked from the Union to Tiger Plaza, holding signs with phrases like, “Keep the Dream Alive” and “Families Have No Borders,” while chanting “Support! Don’t deport!”
When the chanting began to die down, one student yelled, “We got a white supremacist in office and y’all silent?”
Once they reached Tiger Plaza, Rodriguez initiated a call-and-response that included phrases in both Spanish and English.
“Unified we are strong… We hear you,” students chanted, “We see you. We are here. We will support and not deport. Together we are strong.”
She ended with first lady Michelle Obama’s famous words, “When they go low, we go high,” before inviting other students and allies to stand before their crowd and share their experiences.
For many, speaking out about the issue was an emotionally straining experience. Several students relayed that their parents are not legal U.S. residents due to the mistakes of lawyers, and every day they fear deportation for their parents as well as for themselves.
Other student speakers expressed that documented citizens should use their privilege to help others.
“With great privilege comes great responsibility,” said student Maconel James. “Use your privilege to change [the system] so you can go from the inside and bring it down.”
Salvadorian student Fresia Blanco-Romero asked the crowd to acknowledge that they are privileged enough to receive an education, which the government denies to many.
“Recognize the fact that you’re privileged. You’re here getting an education,” Blanco-Romero said. “We care about our people. Si se puede.”
Senior accounting major Alex Calderon communicated the need to prevent older generations from bringing their past into our generation’s future.
“I ask you to keep pushing, keep spreading the word and love your neighbor,” Calderon said. “We’re all American, no matter what color, what religion or where you come from.”
One student read a poem inspired by poet Langston Hughes, and several allies spoke briefly about wanting to help undocumented students in any way they could.
“I just think that it’s really important that not only the Latin American club [protests] but that other organizations become apart of it,” Rodriguez said in an interview. “If not today then in the future. We need to, at this time specifically, be unified.”