Belmont students and members of the Nashville community gathered Saturday afternoon for the Silent March for the DREAM Act, a protest to President Donald Trump’s September DACA decision.
Marching from Cumberland to Public Square Park in downtown Nashville, the group’s silent march— organized by Belmont, Trevecca and Lipscomb students — struck a noticeable contrast to the sounds of city traffic, country music and tourists. Some protesters marched with tape over their mouths.
The march’s participants — ranging from infants to grandparents, but largely made up of college-aged students — grew louder as they approached the Metro Courthouse.
“Once we get to our destination, we will begin to change our ways, so that we are heard, and we are heard all over Nashville,” Belmont student and event organizer Luci Fernandez said.
Many marchers were DACA recipients or were closely connected to DACA recipients.
“DACA determines our future, determines our careers, who we are going to be one day.” Belmont student and event organizer Juliana Mamani said. “We have been silenced all these years in our past. We have been told to do things a certain way, or we haven’t been able to do certain things.”
Along with Trump’s DACA rescission, Saturday’s protesters also marched for a new DREAM Act — a proposed bill that would have helped undocumented minors with plans to attend college or serve in the military receive permanent residency and citizenship.
After the bill failed to pass through the senate in 2010, the Obama administration implemented the DACA program, which shielded children of undocumented immigrants from deportation while they were actively working or enrolled in school.
One speaker, Evelin Salgado, said DACA allowed her to pursue a college degree and support her parents. She is now a Spanish teacher at Cane Ridge High School, but fears DACA’s rescission could take the same opportunities away from other recipients.
“DACA gave me the opportunity to provide for my family, to drive with a driver’s license. On Tuesday, I will become a homeowner,” Salgado said. “Now, the lives of many of us and of about 800,000 DACA recipients are in limbo.”
Fernandez emphasized that the march was also for the parents of DACA recipients, who came to the United States to pursue a better future.
“They are the original Dreamers,” Fernandez said. “We have a dream because they had a dream. We are because they are.”
Article and photos by Sarah Everett