Local DREAMers march to hold on to their dreams

Standing on the steps of the Capitol Building above the crowd, a boy holds up his sign. He was among many children accompanied by their parents who joined the march. ALEXIS BURCH/Special to The Saline Courier
Alexis Burch
Staff Writer

They marched with signs fashioned from poster board and paint. They chanted “El pueblo unido, jamas sera vencido,” the people united, will never be divided. They were mothers, fathers, recipients and even nuns dressed in white.

The Stand With Dreamers March from Central High School to the Little Rock Capitol Building took place Sept. 16. Among the nearly 500 attendees was a woman who grew up outside of Bogota, Colombia.
At 23 in 1967, Catholic nun Ana Riverios, CMSD, arrived in Saint Louis, Mo. At 72, she still marches for the community.
“It’s like in a family you know, (if) the children are suffering (from) something, (then the) parents suffer,” Riverios said. “So to me, this is very painful to see the suffering, the families separated. That affects me.”

The march was in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to phase out The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program which provides undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as a minor to apply for a work permit and a social security number.

Rolando Rodriguez, a DACA beneficiary, would lose his chance at receiving a medical certification if the program ends. He has already filled out an application, and is awaiting for the classes to start in April. Rodriguez currently works as a custodian at the Simmons Tower, but hopes to one day work at UAMS.

“(DACA) allows me to stay here without being deported,” Rodriguez said. “I would lose my job and I would be sent back home (to Veracruz, Mexico).”
Even with the threat of people being sent back to countries they have little association with, Riverios believes the immigrants affected will not lose momentum in trying to raise awareness.
“I have hope people (that) are DREAMers will want to continue to dream, and to walk and to see,” Riverios said. “We will triumph.”

Leaders of the march emphasized the role of younger people leading the way moving forward.
As president of the Bryant High School Young Democrats Club, senior Lauren Wilson wanted to get club members involved in the march, because decisions made in Washington will find a way to affect home.
“We’ve heard it all our lives, ‘Young people’ are the future,” Wilson said. “We owe it to ourselves and our neighbors to get involved to make a change in the world.”
Instead of participating in a social media campaign, Wilson wanted students to paint posters and attend the rally in person.

“Twitter only goes so far in generating change,” she said. “I don’t think there will ever be a substitute for actually getting out and doing something about what you believe in.”

Moved by the photographers, marchers and onlookers, Riverios observed the crowd from the back near the first steps of the Capitol building.

“I am thankful for the people who are walking with this, and the only thing I can say is thank you, continue to support and to walk for these people who came to enrich this country with their talents and everything that they have,” Riverios said.