Hundreds rally for immigrant rights; make demands of Amherst College

22News was there as students made their demands clear

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – An emotional rally for immigrant rights was organized on the Amherst College campus on Wednesday. Hundreds of student protesters want the college to vow to protect immigrants from deportation.

They chanted, “Immigrants are welcome here!” Students used the election of Donald Trump as a reason to rally for immigrant rights. Hundreds raised their voices and their signs to send a message. “No borders, no nation, stop deportations,” they exclaimed.

They gathered on the steps of Converse Hall with a letter for campus leaders. The protesters want the college to commit to being a sanctuary campus.

“By designating Amherst as a sanctuary campus. It says that they will not voluntarily give information to ICE and enforcement agencies to put students in jeopardy of being deported,” said protest organizer and Amherst College student Ana Ascencio. They also want the college to divest investments in jails, prisons and detention centers, hire a faculty adviser to support immigrants, and want these new policies publicly announced by the Monday following Thanksgiving.

After stating their demands, a group of students handed the letter to Amherst College President Biddy Martin.

Amherst College student Bryan Torres, originally from El Salvador, is an undocumented immigrant allowed to stay in the United States under DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. He told 22News about a confrontation he claims he had on the Amherst College campus on homecoming night with some alumni.

“I asked them ‘what is your view on Donald Trump’s immigration policies?’ They said ‘I think that all immigrants need to get out.’ And then I told her: ‘I am an undocumented / DACA-mented immigrant. Do you think I need to get out?’ And she said ‘yes, you need to get out,'” Torres said.

Below is a statement from Amherst College regarding Wednesday’s protest:

Hundreds of students, faculty, and staff gathered today on the steps of Converse Hall at Amherst College in support of the national sanctuary campus movement. Students expressed understandable fear about possible changes in immigration laws that could affect them, their friends, and their families.

At this point, we do not know how immigration laws and enforcement may change. We do know that our commitment to the education and well-being of our students, whatever their status, is unwavering.  We will continue to enroll  an intellectually talented and diverse student body on the basis of rigorous admissions standards and regardless of financial circumstance, citizenship, or immigration status. That commitment is a reflection and extension of the fundamental values on which Amherst was founded.

We are engaging with our students, consulting with our peers, and following developments as they occur.  We will support our students and remain steadfast in our commitment to them.

– Caroline J. Hanna, Director of Media Communications