By Esmeralda Trevino, Eliana Perozo
Sewanee A.D.E.L.A.N.T.E. is an organization that advocates for minority students on campus. We strive to make permanent institutional changes that will expand diversity and raise awareness on important issues for the Latinx communities across the U.S.. This week, we will discuss Eliana Perozo’s (C’18) recent trip to Washington D.C. to advocate for immigrant rights and her views on recent news concerning the repeal of Deferred Action for Children Arrivals (DACA).
As many people well know, Trump gave Congress six months, from September 5 to March 5, to fix his decision to derail DACA and come up with possible solutions to support current recipients, labeled “dreamers.” Perozo is a U.S. citizen and views herself as an ally of those Dreamers, not having to be a recipient herself.
From February 28 to March 6, Perozo had the opportunity to work with United We Dream, which is the number one organization for advocating for the protection of immigrant youth in the U.S., specifically undocumented and DACA recipient students. Perozo knows that there are undocumented people on this campus, ones who are afraid to speak up.
As a member of the Speak Up Sewanee coalition, going to D.C. seemed like the perfect opportunity for Perozo to learn new ways to mobilize support within the Sewanee community for immigrants. Perozo states that she “was in for so much more than I had thought. However, I am glad that I volunteered for what I volunteered for.”
During her time in D.C., Perozo weaponized her privilege as a U.S. citizen and participated in civil disobedience, a willingness to be arrested because of her disagreement with the law. A civil disobedience charge would be a minor consequence for Perozo compared to the consequences for the undocumented individuals who also chose to participate, putting their lives and status in jeopardy.
On March 5, Independence Avenue was at a standstill as Perozo and United We Dream protesters chained themselves together in protest for two hours. Perozo and company were eventually arrested and held in jail for two days without food or water.
They were later released with all charges dropped. Perozo said that what made her experience in jail worthwhile was seeing Sewanee alumni, including Nora Viñas (C’17) and others, anxiously waiting for her upon release.
Perozo adds, “While I was treated unfairly in jail, there are people in detention camps all around the country who are treated far worse. I would do it all over again.”
Upon Perozo’s return to campus, she hopes to continue her activism for this cause. “The University has the capacity to do more for undocumented students by meeting their needs and releasing a statement to show their support. Allies should also be informed on what is going on because immigrant rights are human rights,” says Perozo.
Only two months away from graduation, Perozo hopes to get underclassmen talking about the issues surrounding our community and helping them recognize the power of their voice. Perozo intends to establish “a sustainable platform so students can help one another and have the right resources to do so.”
If you would like to know more information about this issue, please visit unitedwedream.org