Skip to Main Site Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Footer
Back To Top

Eastern Community Gathers to Support Undocumented Students

Published on February 20, 2020

Eastern Community Gathers to Support Undocumented Students

Eastern students and staff march across campus in solidarity with undocumented students.

Students march across the student center out onto Eastern's campus.

Jennifer Zuniga, Secretary of Freedom at Eastern.

English Professor Christine Garcia.

Britney Acevedo-Corona, vice president of Freedom at Eastern addresses the crowd.

Father Larry of the on Campus Ministry.

More than 150 students, staff and community members showed up at a rally in support of undocumented students at Eastern Connecticut State University on Feb. 18. The event was organized by the Freedom at Eastern Club in response to the current U.S. Supreme Court case on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

“Today we are fighting for all immigrant lives,” said Britney Acevedo-Corona, vice president of Freedom at Eastern. “Who are you fighting for?”

Provost William Salka spoke on behalf of Eastern President Elsa Núñez, who was unable to attend, and said that he was proud the rally was organized by students.  “We support DACA recipients and all of our undocumented students,” said Salka.  “Eastern will always support every undocumented student on this campus . . . We don’t care where you are from or how you got here — you will always have a home at Eastern.”

If the Supreme Court rules that the DACA executive order signed by President Barack Obama in 2012 can be overturned by the Trump administration, more than 700,000 young people protected by DACA in the United States would be at risk of losing their temporary legal status.

At Eastern there are more than 200 Dream.US Scholars, many who are protected by the DACA or are Temporary Protective Status holders (TPS). In Connecticut there are more than 4,000 people with DACA status and 1,000 TPS holders, but that is only a fraction of the undocumented community in the state. It is estimated that about 120,000 undocumented immigrants reside in Connecticut. Although the Supreme Court ruling, expected sometime in the coming months, will deal specifically with the constitutional merits of DACA, the court’s ruling could also impact similar programs such as TPS.

Father Larry LaPointe of Eastern’s Campus Ministry quoted a poem from Martin Niemöller, who survived the German concentration camps in World War II. “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a trade unionist.  Then they came for the Jews, but I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”

“We must speak out for others,” said LaPointe, “even if there is no one to speak for us. We are all the same — brothers and sisters.”

Other speakers included Political Science Professor Nicole Krassas, English Professor Christine Garcia and Windham Town Council member Tom DeVivo.

Following the formal program in the Betty R. Tipton Room, the rally continued across campus to Webb Lawn, with participants chanting, “Undocumented.  Unafraid.”