After President Donald Trump announced his plan to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) in September, activists across the nation have asked elected officials to refuse their support of a spending bill that does not support DACA recipients. On Dec. 20, the day before a temporary spending bill was passed by Congress, protesters held signs and sang Christmas carols in front of Representative Devin Nunes’ office asking for his support in passing a ‘Clean’ Dream Act, protecting undocumented youth.
Protesters entered Nunes’ office to ask for his support but were disappointed when asked to leave by office staff. Karen Vargas, an undocumented student at Fresno Pacific University said when entering Nunes’ office protesters were told police were being called.
“We weren’t violent. We simply gathered outside and then entered as constituents of his district,” Vargas said. “It was heartbreaking that even though we have democracy that doesn’t guarantee we will be heard by those in office.”
Peter Maiden, photographer for Community Alliance Newspaper watched as protesters entered Nunes’ office and said the office staff became upset with protesters. “I think the protesters were shocked and hurt by this behavior, They expected more from their congressmen,” Maiden said.
Police arrived near the end of the event, but no arrests were made. Protesters spent the rest of the event, singing and praying. Carols such as “White Christmas” had modified lyrics to represent the dreams of undocumented immigrants during the holiday season; dreams of being united with family, without fear of separation.
Although protesters were not able to deliver a message to Nunes, Vargas felt the event remained a victory for the group.
“We know this a long fight,” Vargas said. “We had a lot of people from all over Fresno showing some incredible support.”
Maria Eliza Mejia-Ng, a protester at the event, said she is not a DACA recipient but identifies with the experience of DACA students coming from Nicaragua as a foreign exchange student.
“Above all things I am a Christian,” Mejia-Ng said. “The Bible tells me I should welcome strangers because I am a stranger myself and I do not belong to this country.”
“While someone is dreaming about a nice car or a nice dinner somebody else is dreaming about staying with their family,” Mejia-Ng said.