Swarthmore students protest in solidarity with #SanctuaryCampus
‘No borders, no nations, stop the deportations’
On Wednesday, hundreds of students at Swarthmore College walked out of class to gather in the center of campus in an anti-Trump, pro-immigration protest.
Signs were held by students that read in thick, bold handwriting, “No human is illegal” while cries of “El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!” echoed in front of Parrish Hall. In English: “The people united, will never be divided!”
The Swarthmore protest was one of many happening simultaneously across the country as a rejection of Donald Trump’s espoused immigration policy and declaration to dismantle Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program through which hundreds of thousands of undocumented individuals have obtained safe residency and the right to work.
The intent was to identify Swarthmore as a “safe campus.” If enacted, it would make the institution a support space for undocumented students and would promote resistance to U.S. Customs and Law Enforcement (ICE) within the broadest reach of the law so as to safeguard the well-being of said students.
Over 80 universities and colleges nationwide have faced and are entertaining similar proposals. At the time of the demonstration, the petition had received over 1100 signatures.
Cries escalated as hands clapped in unison. “What do we want? Sanctuary campus! If we don’t get it, shut it down!”
Student speakers shared personal stories, reflected on their “alien’ status” and commented on the hostility and hardship their family members have endured since arriving in the country. A poem was read in Spanglish and a song was sung. Some students bowed their heads in respect, others held them high in dignity.
Chants of “The students, united, will never be divided!” punctuated the usual quiet nature of Parrish Beach. Some students were milling about the fringes of the gathering but most were stock-still on Magill Walk, forming a block of humanity. Arms were linked and a moment of silence was held for those who have already been deported and for those who have renewed cause to fear for the future.
“One: we are the students! Two: we are united! Three: we will not stop, we have the power!”
At the end the speakers praised the student body for coming out to support each other, as well as faculty and administrators who have spoken out against the demagoguery of Donald Trump. They ended with a pledge to make Swarthmore a stronger, more inclusive community, and reaffirmed the multiculturalism at the heart of the liberal arts institution.
“No borders, no nations, stop the deportations!”
By 1 p.m., most everyone had left. Some helpers stayed to clear away equipment from the porch. A quilt-like banner with a motto in black spray-paint, “We shall not be separated” was affixed to the sidewalk so that a gust of wind would not blow it away.
The walkout had been scheduled to coincide with a nation-wide protest against the proposed policies of president-elect Donald Trump, who has promised in his stomach-churning stump speeches to enforce harsher immigration laws and deportation regulations within the United States; these measures would endanger millions of undocumented residents, the majority of whom are Latin American.
Most infamously, he has pledged to build a Mexican-financed wall along the border that would stretch from the Pacific to the Rio Grande to stem further illegal immigration, which has proven to be one of the more sensitive issues raised during this latest election.
Prejudice has been at the front of his rhetoric and has bolstered his popularity among many of his core supporters, but at this demonstration such ignorance was refuted.