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Community members engage in march to support ‘clean’ immigration policy

| Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Over 90 students and members of the South Bend community marched from Notre Dame to downtown South Bend on Friday, rallying for the passing of a “clean” Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Act and demanding representation from Indiana senators Todd Young and Joe Donnelly and representative Jackie Walorski. The march, led by student grassroots campaign Dream SB, first met in front of the steps of Notre Dame’s Main Building before convening in front of Holy Cross with students and faculty from Holy Cross and Saint Mary’s. From there, the attendees marched nearly two miles to Senator Donnelly’s office.

Andrew Cameron | The Observer

Students meet before participating in the Dream SB march on Friday. Members of the community organized the march in to stand in solidarity with those affected by uncertain immigration policies.

About 36 students initially met at Notre Dame, many of whom were associated with Dream SB, and distributed handmade posters. Freshman Grace Stephenson said the members of Dream SB are enrolled in a class offered by the Center for Social Concerns titled “Advocacy for the Common Good.”

“This year the whole class of 40 people rallied around one social issue, which is that of DACA students and the need for a clean DREAM Act in America,” she said. “We’re marching today to get all three presidents of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross to sign our petition for senator Donnelly, senator Young and representative Walorski to honor their constituents’ wishes and push for a clean DREAM Act.”

The march marks the second event hosted by Dream SB, following a prayer vigil to show support for DACA beneficiaries held in early February.

“We’re marching in solidarity and marching to show that we, as students of all three campuses and members of the South Bend community, really want them to honor our wishes,” Stephenson said.

Holy Cross freshman Juan Aguirre said he was happy with the event’s attendance.

“A lot of the students who decided to attend were not DACA students,” he said. “It was just amazing how there were students from Holy Cross and Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame and we were all able to come together for one purpose, which is advocating for dreamers. I also am a dreamer, so this is pretty important for me. Just being able to be here is amazing.”

Following an introduction by Holy Cross senior vice president Michael Griffin, College President Fr. David Tyson delivered a blessing and announced his support for the purpose of the march.

In an interview, Griffin said this event aligns with the mission of Holy Cross.

“Fr. Tyson was one of the first signers of this petition to say that part of a just society is the recognition of human dignity for all,” he said. “This is a deep part of our Catholic identity. The Catholic bishops have been very strong and very clear about the dignity of immigrants, and the rights of these young people who are marching today. Holy Cross College also has a long tradition of having immigrants among our student body, and they have been a beautiful part of this community, so our commitment is strong.”

During the nearly two-mile walk from Holy Cross to Donnelly’s office in downtown South Bend, the marchers carried brightly-colored signs and chanted “No dreams, no deal,” “Defend DACA,” “si se puede” and other chants, cheering when a passing car would honk in support. Several other supporters were already present at senator Donnelly’s office when the procession arrived. The attendees, numbering just over 90, gathered on the sidewalk by the entrance to the office, continuing to chant. Saint Mary’s junior Marlen Ortiz Benitez addressed the crowd.

“I’m sick and tired of waiting,” she said. “I’m sick and tired of waiting for somebody else to determine my future. … I think all of us are in the same boat right now. We want to know what’s going to happen to our families, not just us. There are 11 million undocumented people in America, and we don’t want a bill that will criminalize our parents. I feel like it’s time for Congress to stop playing games with us. It’s time for them to act.”

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified a speaker at the Dream SB march. The student who spoke was Saint Mary’s junior Marlen Ortiz Benitez, not Holy Cross junior Jacqueline Navarro. The Observer regrets this error.

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