About 100 young people gathered on the lawn of East High School in Wichita on Friday for a student-led rally in support of a program that protects children who were brought to the United States illegally from being deported.
Carrying signs and shouting “Build more bridges, not more walls,” the high-schoolers said they wanted to show support for the legal shield known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced it would end the program, leaving Congress a six-month window of time to try to save it.
“We are here because we have feelings. We are not just pawns in a political game,” said Marieli Duarte, an East High senior and DACA recipient.
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“I am undocumented and unafraid because I know we stand together.”
The lunchtime rally was organized by East High’s Students Against Prejudice and the Feminist Club.
“We want other schools to know that these conversations are necessary, and not taboo,” said Julian Ibarra, president of Students Against Prejudice.
Gathered in the shade of East High’s signature Gothic-style tower, the students chanted, “Respect my existence or expect my resistance.” Several held handmade signs that said “Defend DACA” or “Here to stay.”
Duarte, 17, said she was encouraged and bolstered by the crowd and hoped the students would continue advocating for her and other so-called Dreamers.
“It shows that we care for one another,” she said. “Actions like this … shows the government that communities are coming together to support one another.”