Friday morning, DreaMSU — an organization on campus — hosted a rally outside of the Hannah Administration Building to demand rights for immigrant, undocumented and DACA status students at Michigan State University.
“I think it’s really important that we’re supporting this community of Spartans because they are equally as important as our documented students," DreaMSU Vice President Erin Fuller said. "If you are a student, you’re paying tuition, you’re enrolling in classes, you have the right to be here, and you have the right to have the support from your administration and your fellow students."
DreaMSU organized this rally along with other organizations in light of the recent reported sightings of Customs and Border Protection agents on campus.
The organization came to the rally with the following demands for administration:
- MSU to prioritize safety of its students and declare itself a sanctuary school to show that it supports its students.
- A designated person that undocumented or "DACAmented" students can go to for help and resources.
This would include not collecting information on citizenship status of students and to work on scholarship funding for students who are not authorized to work because of their immigration status.
DreaMSU President Shiksha Sneha opened the rally with additional goals and demands for the university administration.
With the rally, they hope to achieve a supportive statement from the university.
“Our hope from this rally is to have some sort of plan, some sort of strategic action from the university that they can tell us they are working on this, they do support us and they do care about the safety of their students,” Sneha said.
Prior to the rally, Governor Gretchen Whitmer sent a letter to DreaMSU, expressing her support for the rally and their cause.
“Immigrants are a vital part of our communities, bringing fresh perspectives and ideas that contribute to the vibrant diversity of Michigan. Our state is stronger and more competitive to the vibrant diversity of Michigan. Our state is stronger and more competitive when we appreciate one another’s differences and seek to form unity across cultures,” Whitmer said in the letter. “It is crucial that we work together to build our campuses into an accepting and welcoming atmosphere for everyone, so every student can obtain the necessary education, resources, and support to thrive and grow into future leaders of the state.”
Throughout the rally, members of DreaMSU led a variety of chants. Different attendees spoke about their own experiences with immigration.
Chair of The Alliance of Queer and Ally Students Lesly Morales spoke about their experiences as a child of immigrant farmworkers.
Morales also works for the Office of Migrant Affairs within the Department of Health of Human Services for the State of Michigan. They elaborated on the number of farmworkers in the country, as they are composed of primarily immigrants and are a rarely addressed industry.
“How can people say that immigrants are stealing jobs when in (a town in Michigan, there is) 60% unemployment, there are farm working jobs available, but these people aren’t taking them, it’s the stigma that’s tied to these jobs," Morales said. "These jobs are important, however, because of the people that have been working it, it’s been considered a less-than work. That’s not right."
Students at the rally expressed that this rally is only the beginning.
“Just think about all the systems that are in place and how unfair they are, start thinking ‘What can we do? What can us as students do?’ because honestly we have the most power. We pay the tuition, we pay their salaries,” Morales said. "How are we going to connect with other organizations to bring about change, to make a change, to improve the lives of the future generations that come before us. I’m gonna be honest, we might not see this change now, but now what we’re doing is developing a pathway for change to happen.”
DreaMSU Treasurer Jena Khasawneh is the child of immigrants from Jordan and closed out the rally with the poem Identity Card by Mahmaud Darwish.