BAMN holds strike for immigrant rights

Lisi Ludwig/Staff

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The UC Berkeley chapter of By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN, organized a strike Tuesday evening to oppose President Donald Trump’s efforts to terminate former president Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

BAMN is an organization that aims to build a new mass civil rights movement to defend affirmative action and other aspects of the Civil Rights Movement, according to its website. Campus students and bystanders stood at the foot of the Sproul Hall steps to watch the strike and hear the speakers.

BAMN chapter leaders and campus juniors Stephanie Gutierrez and Abel De La Cruz said they hoped that this strike would spread awareness of Trump’s initiative to end DACA and its potential impact on thousands of DACA recipients. Gutierrez, De La Cruz and about 10 other BAMN members encouraged passersby to sign a petition that calls for Eshleman Hall to become a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.

“What this strike represents is the first of many marches, strikes and rallies in the creation of a new movement of immigrant rights and immigrant equality struggle,” De La Cruz said. “What we want to do with this strike is really have this is a basis to inspire more people to join our movement … and … put public pressure on all the lawmakers and the government who has threatened DACA.”

According to De La Cruz, a sanctuary would effectively serve as a way to block U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, in case of a raid on campus or in Berkeley. Volunteers who are willing to physically impede ICE’s ability to reach immigrants and avoid any potential arrests would be stationed outside of Eshleman Hall, De La Cruz added.

The removal of DACA — a U.S. immigration policy introduced in 2012 which aims to shield individuals brought into the U.S. as children from deportation — would make DACA recipients who previously shared personal information to the program completely vulnerable, according to Gutierrez. An estimated 700,000 people or more are protected under DACA in the United States.

“What DACA and what Obama promised was safety to these young people,” Gutierrez said.

Another one of BAMN’s ambitions is to impeach Trump. According to Gutierrez, the fight for DACA is certainly linked to achieving his impeachment by being able to “mobilize the immigrants’ rights movement” and defend DACA.

Both Gutierrez and De La Cruz said they are from families of immigrants. They said they joined BAMN to get a chance to speak out for their community and get involved in efforts to fight for immigrants’ rights and equality.

“I very much understand the history of immigrants in this country and how they are absolutely the backbone of this country,” Gutierrez explained. “We are putting the administration on trial and holding them accountable.”

Contact Olivia González Britt at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Oliviagbritt.