Concurrent with the big protest against the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), my community held a similar rally to show support and to try to influence lawmakers and policymakers. The DACA program was a piece of human rights legislation that essentially offered amnesty to those who were minors when they entered the United States without a visa. Therefore, DACA would protect the children of illegal immigrants or a child who for whatever reason came or was brought to America. Two of the most important provisions of DACA included the deferral of deportation, and the creation of a pathway towards a legal work permit. However, the Trump administration effectively dismantled the program in late 2017. The current protests are related to the need to resolve this issue and promote compassionate immigration policy in the United States.
Observations of the Event
Participation in and observation of this rally helps reveal the important role political protest plays in a democracy. The protest was peaceful, and involved hundreds of people marching with signs and chanting slogans and catchphrases. At one point, there was a speaker who delivered a short address on a temporary stage. It was evident that this event was planned and organized, and had the full support of the city because of the way the stage had been set up and the streets blocked off. There were a few police guarding the streets.
The rally garners media attention, which promotes the issue and shows how many Americans support DACA. Politicians, lawmakers, and policy makers also have the opportunity to see how Americans are responding to the DACA issue, and may act accordingly. Unfortunately, Americans do not have any direct influence over what Congress does immediately because the people who have the power to take action on this issue do not necessarily need to be responsive to the protesters. The federal courts have since challenged the Trump administrationâ€™s authority over DACA, but no real solution has emerged yet (Wilson, 2018). The protests may serve as a way to stimulate political action on this important front. According to Yoshikawa, SuÃ¡rez-Orozco & Gonzales (2016), â€œ5.3 million children and adolescents are growing up either with unauthorized status or with at least one parent who has that status,â€ (p. 4). Compassionate policies like DACA can play an important role in promoting positive outcomes for young immigrants, whose lives have been impacted by forces largely beyond their control (Bender & Arrocha, 2017)..
Observation of this rally also shows how much work goes into organization of protests. The only thing I was slightly confused about was which group(s) organized the protests, and how they carry out their day-to-day logistics. While it is easy to understand how they can use technology to communicate, it seems overwhelming to organize such large events, coordinating efforts, communicating with the media, and receiving the appropriate permits. I also wonder what role the legal system plays in the DACA issues and whether it would be more effective to use the courts given the indications that dismantling DACA may be unconstitutional or at the very least, unethical (Wilson, 2018).
Political protest is one of the cornerstones of democracy. An expression of free speech as well as the right to free assembly, political protests can assume many forms. The march or rally is one of the most common forms of political protest, because it entails large numbers of people gathering in a public space to gain attention and raise awareness. However, there are many other ways to protest or communicate dissent, including speaking at a town hall meeting or writing letters to politicians. When it comes to major federal issues like DACA, though, organizing a rally can be effective especially when the protests occur concurrently in different communities around the nation like this one.
Bender, S.W. & Arrocha, W. (2017). (eds), Compassionate Migration and Regional Policy in the Americas, (2017).
Seattle University School of Law Legal Paper Series No. 17-13
Wilson, K. (2018). Capitol Police: 87 arrested in DACA protests. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/05/politics/daca-protests-arrests/index.html
Yoshikawa, H., SuÃ¡rez-Orozco, C. & Gonzales, R.G. (2016). Unauthorized Status and Youth Development in the United States: Consensus Statement of the Society for Research on Adolescence. Journal of Research on Adolescence 27(1): 4-19.
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