Dreams Deferred

By on September 9, 2017

JACKSON HOLE, WY — “Raise your hand if you’re a Dreamer!”

Rosa Sanchez asked the crowd in front of D.O.G Saturday morning.

Approximately 10 young people raised their hands, Sanchez among them. But gathered at D.O.G were approximately 40, young and old, donned in white ready to march in support of Dreamers.

Dreamer, in this case, refers to young adults protected from deportation by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals—DACA. The Obama-era policy was established in 2012 to offer protection and temporary residency to people who had been brought to the United States without documentation as young children. It has since allowed an estimated 800,000 young adults to attend college and gain meaningful employment, out of the shadows that undocumented people so often hide in.

On Tuesday morning, the White House announced it would rescind DACA for those 800,000 people. Congress has six months to come up with a better plan. So Teton County’s DACA recipients—Dreamers— and allies took to the streets Saturday, to make their presence known in the midst of Old Bill’s Fun Run. Community Soccer Camp organized the march, headed by founder and Dreamer Miguel Cortez. D.O.G offered $5 burritos and a space to organize to the 40-plus marchers.

“We have participated in Old Bill’s before,” Sanchez told the crowd. This year, they would make themselves seen as Dreamers, as contributing community members whose futures were now in jeopardy.

Seen, but not heard. This was a silent march, Sanchez emphasized. Silent, in part, to be respectful to Old Bill’s participants, but also because as Dreamers, “I do feel like our voice was taken away from us,” Sanchez said. As visual representation of this silencing, Sanchez and other marchers taped black “X’s” over their mouths.

Indeed, with the exception of one excited and vocal dog, the crowd remained eerily silent throughout the march. They were greeted by honks on the way, applause from a group sitting outside Dave Hansen White Water, and applause or approving nods from Old Bill’s participants gathered in the square. The march took them from their home-base at D.O.G, down Broadway, through the square, and back.

Some were concerned with the message silence sent. Brian Dominguez was marching for his family, many of whom are Dreamers. He understood the symbolism behind the tape. But he didn’t want to stay silent.

“I’m angry. I want to yell,” Dominguez said. “Let’s express that anger rather than keeping us silent like we’ve always been.”

But Sanchez said Saturday’s march is just the first of many public demonstrations in coming months, so that Jackson can understand exactly who is impacted by the decision to repeal DACA.

People like Maggie Ordonez, who came to the United States when she was six years old. “I didn’t know I was illegal until high school,” Ordonez said, when she suddenly couldn’t do things her friends could.

Ordonez’s parents immigrated to the United States legally—her dad arrived first, and secured a worker’s visa for her mom. But her parents “didn’t have the resources to get something for us,” Ordonez said. So she and her siblings were undocumented. Now Ordonez is a parent herself, and thanks to DACA, can work full-time at a bank and support her kids.

“I want [my kids] to grow up here and experience the community like I did,” she said.

Or Blanca Aberto, who immigrated from Mexico when she was three years old, and has not returned since. Aberto is also a mother, and has DACA to thank for the job that supports her children. But she’s careful about language that places blame on parents of DACA recipients—it’s not their fault either, she says.

“We in no way blame our parents for this,” Aberto said. “You do anything you can for your child to give them a better life.” Aberto’s parents gave her a better life, and as a parent herself, she’d “do it all again” for her child.”We’re here thanking our parents for bringing us here.” PJH

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