Immigrant Youth Block Disneyland Entrance During Dream Act Protest

A group of 20 undocumented youth and their supporters protested for a “clean” Dream Act in front of Disneyland, briefly blocking the theme park’s shuttle entrance this morning. Senate leaders moved closer to ending a three-day government shutdown before the action started around 9:30 a.m., voting on a three-week funding extension in exchange for a promise that Republicans take up immigration legislation in that same time frame. But Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients were left without a Dream Act to resolve their status. 

The Trump administration gleefully announced in September that the Obama-era policy would be phased out. The president has dangled the youth’s fate in exchange for securing border wall funding ever since. Barbara Hernandez, a 26-year-old DACA recipient from Santa Ana, became an activist with the Seed Project after the announcement. Her mother first promised a trip to Disneyland when leaving Mexico, but the family ended up staying in OC a lot longer when she was brought over as a six-year-old.

This time around, Hernandez returned to the Happiest Place on Earth wearing a “No Dream, No Deal” shirt while blocking traffic. “Disneyland is supposed to represent where dreams come true,” said Hernandez, who also got arrested in December and spent days in jail on hunger strike as part of the #Dream7 action in Washington D.C. “We want our dream to come true. We’re tired of the political games and being used a bargaining chips. We need a permanent solution.” The activist relayed feelings of anxiety and depression that she and a lot of other DACA recipients have felt since their futures became uncertain.   Shuttles began to stack up behind Hernandez while she spoke to reporters. “That frustration that they’ll feel right now being stuck in traffic, that’s what the immigrant community has felt for years,” she said. Anaheim police moved quickly to clear the activists out of the shuttle entrance area. “You can’t do this,” one cop told protesters.”Come on, we need you guys to move.” The police liaison pleaded for time to check-in with fellow activists before moving the protest on the sidewalk underneath the “Disneyland Resort” entrance sign for both theme parks.

“People are coming here every single day to go on vacation, but this country is in a crisis,” said Roberto Juarez, a Seed Project organizer. “Every day, 122,000 undocumented youth are put at risk of deportation.” Throngs of Disney park goers crossed Harbor Boulevard and encountered protesters chanting “Sin papeles, sin miedo!” Many curiously looked on. Others sneered. “Speak English!” one man said. “I can’t understand you.” Another Trumpbro flashed the MAGA president’s “okay” hand sign, a gesture adopted by the racist alt-right.

“Here at Disneyland, there’s a park ride called ‘It’s a Small World,'” said Emily Velasquez, an activist ally. She delved into the history of the ride’s multilingual song before revamping the lyrics for the current political crisis. “Pass a clean Dream Act for all, pass a clean Dream Act for all!” the protesters sang in the same tune as the audio-animatronic dolls inside the ride. They continued chanting before marching down towards Katella Avenue and back to the front of Disneyland where they called it a day. 
Off to the side, a Latino family dressed in Disney attire listened attentively to the immigrant youth before heading into the theme park. “It really makes me very happy seeing all the protests because that means that we have a lot of community that are with us,” said a San Clemente woman who’s a Dreamer herself. The 25-year-old mother hopes of becoming a correctional officer one day. “It really is very sad everything that we’re put through. Honestly, everybody that’s a Dreamer is only here to make a better life.”

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