Local group holds vigil for DACA
Senior Pastor Dottie Escobedo-Frank welcomes the crowd to the Catalina United Methodist Church for the DACA Vigil on Sept. 10. Escobedo-Frank told the crowd how her grandmother came across the Rio Grande River pregnant to have her son, Escobedo-Frank's father, in America so that he could avoid the violence of Mexico.
Tucsonans came together on Sunday night for a candlelight prayer vigil at Catalina United Methodist Church in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients.
The service took place in response to the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the DACA program, potentially affecting the nearly 800,000 individuals enrolled, some of which are students who make up part of the Tucson community.
Attendees received postcards and flyers with Arizona’s legislators contact information so they could reach out to them on behalf of DACA recipients.
The vigil began with each attendee holding a candle and prayer-flyer gathered in a grassy patch to listen to a musician, Pablo Peregrina, play requests.
Peregrina, a first generation immigrant from Nogales, Sonora, is a self-employed tile artisan and musician. He said music is his way of changing others’ ways of thinking. Because of that, he considers himself someone who sings for the voices of others.
“When I started playing guitar, I said ‘I wanna be somebody,’” Peregrina said. “I didn’t know this is what I would be doing but it’s emotional. It’s emotional sometimes too [when] everybody gathers singing ‘hallelujah.’ This is one of many, many places that I’ve played, and it’s a good feeling,”
Several speakers spoke about resources and support for individuals under DACA and DREAMers. One of the speakers, Cassandra Becerra, stood in for Congressman Raul Grijalva, who could not attend because he was in Washington, D.C.
Becerra shared her story of being an immigrant and about the feeling of uncertainty Dreamers face.
“One thing that is certain, however, in all of our hearts is that Tucson shows up when somebody needs it,” Becerra told the crowd. “They show up for immigrant rights, they show up for LGBT, for veterans. For everyone in our community who needs us, they show up. And that’s what’s happening here tonight.”
Clergy members then took over the proceedings, reciting scripture passages alternatively in English and Spanish, about immigrants and loving your neighbor. A prayer in which the crowd responded in unity followed.
Later in the evening, the crowd turned on the flashlights from their phones and sang along to “Amazing Grace” in harmony.
The night ended in two prayers, one in English, the other in Spanish.
Matt Doolen of Catalina United Methodist Church planned the event. Doolen reached out to pastors after hearing about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind DACA.
“I know people that are very afraid about what’s going to happen if DACA is rescinded, and I could really feel it in my heart that we need to help these people,” Doolen said. “We need to do something to show we support them and they’re important, and we’re there for them as well.”
Reverend Dottie Escobedo-Frank, one of Catalina Methodist Church’s pastors, wanted to show DACA recipients and DREAMers that they are not alone.
“The vigil is for the people of Tucson and the religious community to gather together and to pray, to give hope, and to encourage people,” Escobedo-Frank said. “It’s a really scary time for a lot of families and in Tucson, in our area, it’s a deep and far-reaching problem for us.”
Escobedo-Frank said she hopes that in the future, people connected to the DACA and Dreamer community can give back and help those in need.
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