Building up a wall in protest, members of Harvard College Act on a Dream—an immigrant advocacy group—denounced President Donald Trump’s actions and rhetoric against undocumented individuals at a demonstration Friday.
The protest, called an “Illegal Wall Demonstration” and held in the Science Center Plaza, involved the construction of a “paper wall against hatred.” Students placed Post-it note “bricks”—with words meant to “humanize” undocumented immigrants written on them—over a banner bearing the world “illegal.” Eventually, words like “friends and family,” “Vietnamese food lover,” and “amateur photographer” covered up the term “illegal.”
In the past week, the Trump administration has expanded the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s ability to enforce the nation’s immigration laws and detain unauthorized immigrants.
According to Act on a Dream Advocacy Co-Chair Bruno O. Villegas Mccubbin ’19, the purpose of the demonstration was to stand up to “the negative rhetoric about immigrants and immigrant communities that has been spewed throughout this past election cycle” and “spread some positivity and reveal the true face of immigrant communities.”
The construction of the “paper wall against hatred,” Act on a Dream Dream Advocacy Co-Chair Laura S. Veira-Ramirez ’20 said, was a form of “artivism”—a portmanteau of the words “artistic” and “activism”—as participants wrote things that defined the identities of undocumented students they knew.
Enrique Ramirez ’17 said he thought the rally served to highlight overlooked effects of Trump’s immigration order.
“In these past few days, Trump’s order is starting to come into effect and he’s implemented ICE raids that are increasing all over our country,” Ramirez said. “That’s a thing that people are generally not aware about at Harvard.”
Veira-Ramirez said that the purpose of Act on a Dream’s advocacy events were to clear the misconceptions surrounding undocumented people.
According to Veira-Ramirez, the event sought to shed light on how anti-immigrant rhetoric can categorize undocumented people into two groups—the “DREAMers, the innocent students who came here, who were brought here when they were young” and the “criminals.” Undocumented Harvard students should be aware of their privileged position as “DREAMers” in this categorization, said Veira-Ramirez.
“It’s not just affecting us; it’s affecting our families and you can’t just say you’ll support the DREAMers,” Veira-Ramirez said. “We’re kind of safe because we’re at Harvard, but we’re not the only ones at risk.”
—Staff writer Alice S. Cheng can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @alicescheng.
—Staff writer Kristine E. Guillaume can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @krisguillaume.