Human Rights Watch Student Task Force facilitates conversation on DACA


Members of the American Youth Symphony Orchestra performed during break in Ahmanson. The performance was followed by a Q&A session and discussion of immigration. Credit: Kendall Dees/Chronicle

Kendall Dees

The Human Rights Watch Student Task Force hosted the American Youth Symphony Orchestra to facilitate conversations about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients and immigration in Ahmanson Lecture Hall on Monday.
“The orchestra is so inspiring and I think it’s such an important conversation to have,” Human Rights Watch Student Task Force co-president and Chronicle Assistant News Editor Sophie Haber ’19 said.
The orchestra performed music by George Gershwin, a first-generation American born in Brooklyn to immigrants from Russia.
“If Gershwin had been forced to return to Russia as many DACA recipients now face being forced to return to the nations of their parents, the country would have lost not only an integral part of its culture, but the musical manifestation of its identity,” Human Rights Watch Student Task Force member Sonya Ribner ’19 said.
This year’s goal for the Student Task Force has been to work on campus to advocate for the human rights of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, Haber said.
“I am fortunate enough not to have to worry about my status in this country as a citizen, but for over 690,000 people that security has been taken away from them because the government has not come to a definitive decision on what their action will be in terms of the children who came to the nation when they were young and the country is all they know,” Ribner said.
The Student Task Force hopes that by listening to music written by a first-generation immigrant, students will be motivated to advocate for legislation protecting DACA recipients from deportation, Human Rights Watch Student Task Force co-president Carolyn Kim ’18 said.
“Music has always had the power to change hearts and minds about issues,” Kim said.
Following the orchestra’s performance, students took part in a conversation about DACA. The task force also held a question and answer session with the orchestra.
“I feel passionately about this issue,” task force member Catherine Crouch ‘19 said. “How can we, as Americans, want to deport all of the amazing and talented immigrants coming into this country when America itself was built upon immigration? We all came from abroad and started new lives here. How is it fair if we deprive these DACA recipients of this opportunity to live their American dream?”
The Student Task Force will shift its focus onto issues of genocide and the Rohingya people in Myanmar.
“This year we’ve done a lot to raise awareness about DACA on campus,” Haber said. “In the UN Declaration of Human Rights, everyone’s home and privacy is supposed to be protected without arbitrary interference. That’s what we were trying to protect for DACA recipients and for the Rohingya, too.”