Written by Zack Silvas. Media by Ashley Chaney.
March 5th was the original deadline for Congress to take any action to create a new policy on DACA before its official termination. It is clear to see that many things have changed in the last couple of months that have allowed DACA to stay for the foreseeable future. In order for our students to get involved with DACA and have an understanding of what it is, GU’s very own Michael Gonzalez held DACA Power Hour event where individuals called state representatives and senators to tell them to take action on making sure that DACA wasn’t rescinded. A Q&A was then held with the intent of making others aware of what DACA was. Since then, Gonzalez has held another event, DACA Dessert, where he got Jennifer Whitlock, an immigration lawyer, and Professor Ruth Huston to give their legal and Christian perspectives on DACA. Gonzalez also was able to FaceTime his cousin, who is a DACA recipient herself, to ask questions about how her life was before and after DACA was put in jeopardy of being terminated. I got the honor of attending the event myself and would say that Mrs. Whitlock, Professor Huston, and Gonzalez’s cousin all did a phenomenal job being able to educate the audience and spread awareness of DACA. After the event was over, I sat down with Gonzalez to ask him about the experience and the future of more DACA events.
With DACA Power Hour being short, Gonzalez thought hosting DACA Dessert would spark more of an interest if held at a later time:
So I wanted it to reach a bigger audience, and since the DACA power hour was limited to Chapel time, we were competing with Chapel, and I really don’t want to take people away from Chapel. So I was looking for like an alternative to kind of bring more people at an ideal time and have like a little incentive to bring more people and at the same time like show them a little bit about the culture part, which is the dessert, and a lot of people didn’t know what tres leche was, so I’d take advantage of that.”
Gonzalez wanted this event to be more informational. That is why he brought in Whitlock and Professor Huston—so that the audience would be able to gain new perspectives on DACA. “That was one of my main ideas…to have a legal perspective and have a Christian perspective, as we are a Christian campus…I wanted those two perspectives present. I’d been to one of Jennifer’s events last year, and…she was in the same shoes as many other DACA recipients, being an immigrant herself. So knowing her, and having that connection, I knew she would be a great person to get to have here.”
I then had a conversation with other professors. I asked who they thought would be good to give me Christian perspectives on this issue, and Ruth’s name came out a lot. After everyone gave their presentations, it was time for Gonzalez’s cousin to talk about how her life changed before and after DACA was threatened to be terminated. She then was able to answer a couple of questions from the audience which lead to the Q&A session. Whitlock and Professor Huston were also apart of this session. I asked how Gonzalez’s cousin felt after the event, and he said that the questions got her out of her comfort zone. She was not expecting a lot of people to be at the event, but she was happy that Gonzalez was able to help. Gonzalez was also happy with the whole event.
I was happy, especially at the end when they actually got to ask questions. Not just to people who know their stuff, but you know, to an actual person who was living this out and the questions that they had. I thought they were great questions, especially the question that was asked…about how as a Christian University [we are] going to take this issue and deal with it. Then seeing a lot of new faces, we had DACA power hour, and then we had the DACA Dessert. After those two events will even see more new faces. I felt really good having the people that we had.”
When asked if any future events will be held, Gonzalez said that he is in contact with Whitlock and that she informs him of events that happen around Illinois and in St. Louis all the time. He feels that moving forward, events will be held if something dramatic has changed to DACA, but is hoping he can have events at other campuses to create an even broader awareness.
After attending this event, I still feel like more awareness can be spread throughout our campus. Going to an event like this can stir the emotions of anyone that leads to action. So the next time you get an email regarding an event like this, you should definitely look into it and, go so that you can gain awareness and be spurred into action as well!