The University of Connecticut is a top 20 public university and top 60 overall university nationally according to U.S. News and World Report. The school boosts a population of over 31,000 students. Within that population there are almost 100 students who are currently undocumented. Many of these students are attending UConn under an executive action called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). One of those students is Eric Cruz López.
Eric López studies in Laurel Hall ahead of class. Eric is a third year secondary math education major at UConn. Like most students he spends his time balancing his school work with his other responsibilities. Unlike most students, Cruz López’s other responsibilities include fighting for his right and the right of all immigrants to stay in this country.
Eric speaks in front of students at a rally protesting the election of Donald Trump in front of Gampel Pavilion. Eric is one of around 750,000 people within the United States who have DACA. Eric came to the United States when he was six years old from Mexico and lived for the past 15 years in Connecticut. His life, however, may come crashing down come January 20. While DACA is currently law, it is an executive action. If President-elect Trump wants to repeal it, he can so without congressional approval.
Protestors organize in front of Trump Tower in New York City back in October, ahead of the election. Protests like these allow people to be a voice for all of those fighting to survive in this country. These kind of protests have become especially important as the realization that Donald Trump will be president come January really sinks in. As a result, protesters cannot allow themselves to back down, even under the threat of arrest.
Eric leads a chant during the protest in front of Trump Tower in New York City on October. In his work to fight for immigration reform, Eric has become a community organizer for Connecticut Students 4 a Dream (C4D) and United We Dream. Both groups seek to improve the lives of undocumented immigrants. Eric leads a group affectionately named the “Honey Badgers Squad” because of their unwillingness to back down and power through adversity.
Eric cheers along with students during the Rally for the People. At the end of the day, everyone at these UConn rallies is a student. While fighting for their rights they are also working to get through their exams and their classes. Support from the student body lightens the stress and helps remind students that they are not alone in their fight.
C4D students celebrate following the successful passage of an Undergraduate Student Government (USG) bill that would recommend that UConn becomes a sanctuary city. Not all of the work that Eric is doing is without success. Student support will help bring about changes in the University which will allow students to remain at UConn and continue to receive an education without fear of deportation. Small victories like the one with USG mean that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Eric relaxes on a bench in Rome Commons following the successful University Senate meeting earlier this week in which the body decided to support USG’s bill. Over the past few weeks, many groups have shown support for the idea to make UConn a sanctuary city and have voted accordingly. Yet the battle is far from over. The real fight will start on January 20, 2017.