Photos: Nashville residents urge Congress to pass ‘clean DREAM Act’ with silent march

Photos and story by Anthony Merriweather / Contributing Writer 

With hopes to urge Congress to pass a “clean DREAM Act,” supporters of undocumented immigrants marched in silence from Cumberland Park to the steps of the Tennessee State Capitol on Saturday afternoon.

The march was organized under the working organization name, Nashville Dreamers, by a group of students from Belmont University and Trevecca Nazarene University, with the help of organizations such as the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. Before the silent march began, Luci Fernandez, a Belmont University student and member of the silent march organizing team, explained that the march was is in solidarity with people who are in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the parents of those with DACA status and the 11,000,000 undocumented immigrants who live in the United States. In September, the Trump administration decided to rescind the DACA program with a six-month delay, leaving approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrants, known as Dreamers, in limbo.

To support the theme of silence, supporters covered each other’s mouths with duct tape. The only sounds being made from the crowd of participants were drums being played by leaders of the silent march. The drums were in place to allow marchers to focus and distract themselves from the comments of passersby who may disapprove of their message. Fernandez explained that the use of duct tape and the silence of the participants is symbolic and provides a glimpse into what it means to be an undocumented immigrant in America.

“Growing up, immigrants don’t make a lot of ruckus,” Fernandez said. “We don’t make noise. We don’t bring attention to ourselves, right? Because, (there is a) fear of immigration and fear of getting stopped by the police … So, you stay silent, you don’t talk and you don’t tell people, ‘Oh, I’m an immigrant’ or ‘I’m a DACA recipient’ … Our whole thing is, here’s your last chance to be quiet, and to be silent, here’s space for you to grieve … When you get here, you realize that has not worked. DACA was rescinded without another plan in place.”

Over 100 people participated in the silent march. The crowd was diverse, with people from various racial backgrounds, age groups and organizations. Fernandez also said that bringing different people together in support of issues like this is important in maintaining a healthy environment for everyone that considers Nashville their home.

“We need Nashville to be our city,” Fernandez said. “That doesn’t mean just (Nashville Predators) stuff. It also means making sure our community is safe and our community is happy.”

Once the participants of the silent march reached the end of the Pedestrian Walk Bridge, they pushed through tourists on 2nd Avenue to eventually finish the march at Capitol Hill. The silent march participants were escorted by the Neon Guard, a volunteer group dedicated to facilitating the safety of marginalized communities. Speakers with DACA status shared stories of their immigration on the courthouse steps, including an educator from Cane Ridge High School. Hernan Crescencio, a Trevecca Nazarene University student and a member of the silent march organizing team, was responsible for gathering speakers for the march and delivered a message of his own at the end of the march.

“I want people to know we’re not staying silent anymore,” Crescencio said. “Trump removed DACA, and now the pressure is on us. The pressure is on the people … to take action. We can no longer stay silent, and this march we had symbolized that.”

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar
    October 27, 2017

    I am not sure what Making Nashville a safe haven for illegal immigrants will do to change the laws and borders of our nation. Regardless of Nashville’s stance on this issue, the government and the laws of our Nation take precedent. I personally believe that breaking the law is not something that should be advocated for, but I also do not I believe that the undocumented immigrants that already live in the United States should be rounded up and excommunicated or forcefully deported. I believe that there should be some sort of system in place in the United States that can help said undocumented immigrants receive the same information and education that the already operating Immigration process provides to legal immigrants. In order for America to retain its “melting pot” mentality culture, I strongly believe that an attempt at assimilation is a necessary obligation. I do personally believe that there should be a stronger border and a stronger process for immigration application in order to ensure the safety of all residents of the United States, including those wishing to soon become citizens themselves. I believe that everyone who chooses to come to the United States should be welcomed with open arms, but also with a proper introduction to the Nation and it’s laws. Ideally, I wish that everybody who wished to enter into the United States had the best interest of our Nation at heart and did so to obtain the American Dream that these Dreamers say they are looking to find. Part of the American Dream is abiding by the rules and laws of America.

    In conclusion, I personably do not approve of illegal immigrants being granted immediate amnesty and our borders becoming open because there are immigrants who followed the law and went through the process and did not have a free pass. I also strongly disagree with the idea that illegal immigrants should be collected and deported because I know that many, if not most, of them want to live the American Dream and have already had a taste of what that has to offer. I believe that there should be a system in place that is more efficient for immigrants that follow the law, a process for illegal immigrants to become citizens without deportation but also without handing them a free citizenship, and also a stronger border defense to cut down on the amount of illegal immigration into the United States.

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