Group Marches To Show Support for DACA, DREAMers

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- A diverse crowd gathered Sunday (Sept. 17) afternoon at the intersection of College Avenue and Dickson Street to show support for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

The event called "Dream Project #90days" started after the Arkansas United Community Coalition, or AUCC, heard the call for action from some in the community.

Volunteer Andrea Garcia said this is in response to President Donald Trump's decision to rescind the policy, but they want to put pressure on Congress to make a decision now.

The non-profit claims there are more than 8,000 DREAMers in Arkansas who fall within DACA criteria.  "These individuals came to the states as children ... and don't know any other place as their home other than this country," according to AUCC.

Garcia said they want to give a voice to those DREAMers who may now be worried about deportation.

“All they want to do is get their education and get an amazing job," Garcia said. "Other people just want to work and have the right to buy a house, to get a car. Like Congress, or politics, they don’t realize that they are messing with people’s lives.”

Juan Mendez moved to Northwest Arkansas from Mexico when he was seven.

He doesn't remember much about his life there and said he doesn't really have family there anymore.

Mendez is a DACA recipient and explained that during his time here he has done all the things Garcia mentioned.

“For all that to be now threatened, because of this decision, is troubling," Mendez said. "Especially since I feel as DREAMers we are constantly fighting to belong to a country that constantly wants to throw us out.”

Northwest Arkansas is home for Mendez.

He asked that the elected officials who are now in control of his fate, and those of others around the country, to simply support the DREAMers.

"We are somebody that has grown up here, that has learned the language, has contributed to this community, have gone to your schools, are your kids friends, are your neighbors, are your co-workers," Mendez said. "I would say support the DREAMers.”

This is only the the first event of "Dream Project #90days."

The AUCC plans to hold at least three more over the next three months.

Garcia said they will be one in Springdale, Rogers and Bentonville.

DACA is an American immigration policy implemented in 2012 by the Secretary of Homeland Security.  There are a series of requirements for those who are undocumented to qualify.  For example, passing a criminal background check, enrolling in high school or having  a high school diploma or a GED.

As of 2017, nearly 790,000 unauthorized immigrants people have registered through DACA, according to the latest data by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.