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As the Hamilton Mixtape’s “Immigrants” played, dozens of students from School Without Walls High School and George Washington University gathered on the university’s Kogan Plaza Friday morning to march. Hundreds of high school and college students walked out of class to show support for DREAMers whose fate rests in the hands of the Supreme Court.
“I don’t want to sit there in U.S. History when I can be a part of it,” says 16 year-old Lakshmi Mosquera, who attends School Without Walls and walked out of an AP U.S. History class. “All I’ve heard Trump do from the beginning of his campaign was talk badly about our community … It’s gotten to a point where he’s directly affecting my people and I want to do something about it.”
Nearly 1 million immigrants have been living in limbo since Sept. 2017, when the Trump administration decided to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Democrat-led jurisdictions, including D.C., and advocacy organizations immediately filed lawsuits to block the administration’s decision to end DACA.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about whether it was legal for the Obama administration to establish DACA without congressional approval in 2012. Obama provided deportation protection and work permits to nearly 700,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived to the U.S. as children. Seven months after taking office, Trump revoked these protections.
Students from various District schools traveled to Capitol Hill, then marched to the Supreme Court. Represented schools included Banneker High School, Bell High School, Cardozo High School, DC International, George Washington University, Georgetown University, School Without Walls, Trinity Washington University, University of the District of Columbia, and Wilson High School.
With the support of United We Dream, students organized Friday’s walk-out and march. Protesters included immigrants, first-generation U.S. citizens, and allies to the cause. One protester was Dany Vargas, a DREAMer who was detained by immigration agents in 2017 while she was protesting. Her father and brother were also detained during a seperate raid.
“It’s important to be here today because we want freedom, we want justice for everyone—not just us but for our parents as well,” says Vargas, a student at Trinity Washington University.
She says the last couple of years have been challenging—”a lot of ups and downs,” she says—but her university has supported her a lot. At least 10 percent of Trinity students are DREAMers, so the university offers counselors and immigration attorneys.
Protesters showed up because they couldn’t understand how anyone could not support the DREAMers. Separately, polls show an overwhelming support for DREAMers.
“Although I’m not a DACA recipient, I feel as though it is the duty of all people. Ultimately, unless you are a Native American, you have been an immigrant to this country. You have taken this land from another person. So at its most basic essence, it would be immoral for any person to say ‘you do not belong here’,” says 18-year-old GWU student Shawky Darwish.
Students City Desk spoke with say teachers were supportive. They raised their hands, and teachers let them walk out. A few professors and teachers marched with students.
Bell High School students, however, say administrators threatened suspension if they walked out of school. Four students City Desk spoke with say administrators were giving students a hard time leaving because they needed parental consent. Fernando Guradosays the school threatened a three-day suspension.
“As student government, I’m the 11th grade president, our principal came up and said ‘you should be setting an example.’ But we are setting an example,” says Gurado. Daro echoed her classmate, saying, “they are telling us to fight for what we believe in but they won’t let us.”
An assistant principal who refused to provide their name to City Desk said this wasn’t true, and that the school supports those protesting.