AURORA, Colo. – A group of immigration advocates gathered at Fletcher Plaza, near Martin Luther King, Jr. library in Aurora on Saturday morning.
The group chanted “Here to stay! Here to stay,” a message going against President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign promises and rhetoric toward undocumented immigrants.
Vanessa Quevedo spoke with Denver7 ahead of Saturday’s rally. She responded to a statement made by Trump back in June 2016, regarding who Mexico is sending to the U.S., “They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Quevedo said, “I can tell you I’m not the worst Mexico has sent. I am not a rapist. I am not a criminal.”
She is an avid volunteer though. She is also a high school senior with a full-ride scholarship to college. Quevedo is also an undocumented immigrant.
“At various points of my life, I was scared that I wouldn’t get to attend college because I was undocumented,” said Quevedo. Those fears grew with Trump’s promise to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program -- or DACA -- an executive order issued by President Obama.
The DACA program essentially gives undocumented youth a two-year work permit, a social security number, and exempts them from being deported.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, R-SC, recently said, “In my view, the DACA Executive Order issued by President Obama was unconstitutional and President-elect Trump would be right to repeal it. However, I do not believe we should pull the rug out and push these young men and women – who came out of the shadows and registered with the federal government – back into the darkness.”
Colorado Education Association Vice President, Amie Baca-Oehlert, went to Saturday’s rally. She said, “There’s been a lot of talk on the campaign, and leading up to the inauguration. What we’re doing, and why we’re here today is to send a message to say we stand for all students and families -- and we will not let hate win.”
Advocates estimate the futures of nearly 750,000 young people who depend on DACA seems more uncertain than ever.
“A world without DACA is not America, and it’s not the American Dream,” said Ana Temu, an advocate of the program.
Also unclear is whether Trump will move forward with his plans of mass deportation. If that’s the case, Quevedo said it’s likely she’ll be without her mother, grandmother and other relatives.
She said the DACA program would be the only option giving her a fighting chance. “As hard as it would be for me to not be with my family, I would have to fight here to get them back.”
A bipartisan bill was introduced by Congress this week. It would protect young adults like Quevedo from deportation.
The Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy Act -- or BRIDGE Act -- would provide temporary relief from deportation and work authorization to undocumented youth.
U.S. Representatives Luis V. Gutierrez and Colorado’s very own Mike Coffman are introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
In a January 12th press release, Rep. Coffman stated, “Today’s introduction of the Bridge Act is only a first step in the long process of permanently reforming and strengthening our immigration laws. I believe children brought here at no fault of their own, merit the opportunity to live, work and study in the United States. For the balance of Immigration reform, I am optimistic that we can fix our broken immigration system by enacting tougher laws, securing our borders, and implementing stricter enforcement, all while still keeping families together.”