By Kelly Haberstroh
“The future of hundreds of thousands of individuals now rests on Congress. Now more important than before to make our voices heard in unison and our constant commitment to protect our community,” Haylei John, Student Government Association executive board president said.
On Sept. 12, a group of students stood outside Plassmann Hall to protest President Trump’s decision to rescind DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
John started off the protest to acknowledge the community coming together to show our unity and response to the decision to rescind DACA.
She assured students who themselves or their families may be affected by the DACA decision that we as a university stand with them to make a call for immigration reform that reflects a recognition and respect of human dignity. Change must be made to ensure to view individuals as people, not as numbers, outsiders, or burdens.
“We’re standing here for the values that define our university and above all, we stand here for the humanity and dignity of members of our community, both within Bonaventure and beyond,” John said.
Following John’s opening remarks, Br. Kevin Kriso, O.F.M., spoke on behalf of the friars at Mt. Irenaeus and said what’s important is to remember our history because the majority of Americans are descendants of immigrants.
He brought up how in our country, there were some immigrants who chose to come, some who were forced to come, but all of us, if we remember, come from other places and people forget that.
“They want to shut the door behind the people who are also trying to come forward. That I believe is a big problem, we forget. We forget our relatives and ancestors were not wanted here and yet found a place and became good Americans,” Kriso said.
Kriso then directed the focus to our Franciscan heritage and perspective by reminding everyone all people are made in the image and likeness of God.
“Every one of us has that important wonderfulness that was given to us by our creator. If we really lived by that, how would we be treating each other? How, instead of looking at each other as obstacles or threats?” he said. “We are one and we don’t always act like we are.”
He said all of us are here, all of us are immigrants and none of us has the right to shut the door on anybody else because we are here, then mentioned he’s the grandson of two immigrants who snuck into this country, who eventually went on and became American citizens and had American children and American grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Fr. Michael Calabria, O.F.M., seconded Kriso’s statements by saying he felt the need to raise our voices in protest to rescind DACA.
“We are not simply a people of faith and the prophets of our various faith traditions is not how closely we follow the laws. Our greatness is the degree to which we love, care for one another,” he said.
When offering a prayer, the Rev. Calabria brought up how last year members of the community united in the same spot to protest the ban of people who wanted to immigrate from some Muslim countries.
He continued Kriso’s sentiments by saying we are not simply a people of law, but people of faith. Our greatness in the eyes of our creator is the degree to which we love, to which we care for one another.
“We thank you for gathering us together this evening as one Bonaventure family in peace, faith, fortitude, in solidarity with one another and with our sisters and brothers of all races, ethnicities and countries of origin,” the Rev. Calabria said. “We ask you to grant
us all a vision of our country as your love would have it where the weak are welcomed and the persecuted are protected. Be our light in our country that is darkened by hatred, fear and conflict.”
The last speaker of the night was Parker Suddeth, coordinator for the Damietta Multicultural Center, who called everyone to reflect on the importance of the event and to leave full of passion, hope and love.
“Allow those words to go with you as we leave this place,” he said before singing “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round,” a song popularized during the civil rights movement.