Ye: Reflecting on the arrest of DACA recipient

Samantha Ye

Editor’s note: As part of a media transparency initiative, on Aug. 20, 2018, The Collegian spent the first day of publishing of the year telling our readers about us. You can read more about the people behind our publication in the Editor’s Blog.

woman stands beside man as police arrest them
Colorado State University senior ethnic studies major and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient Brithany Gutierrez is arrested by Metropolitan Police in Washington, D.C. Gutierrez has been in Washington, D.C. with the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition since Tuesday to Congress members to pass a “clean” Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. (Photo courtesy of Brithany Gutierrez)

January 18, 2018: The federal government is two days away from shutting down from lack of funding, Congress is putting as much effort into pointing fingers as they are into stopping it, and the national news media is kicking up a storm about our impending doom.

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Somewhere in this whirlwind of political dysfunction, a Colorado State University student is arrested in Washington D.C.

The student was Brithany Gutierrez, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient. She had been protesting for Congress to pass a clean Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, a central dispute in the imminent shutdown.

Her arrest lit up The Collegian’s news desk GroupMe that Thursday afternoon as editors scrambled to find someone to interview her.

I did not know her arrest would become one of the most read stories of the school year then. All I knew was I should probably take the story.

I was able to speak with Gutierrez that night, possibly one of the quickest interview turnarounds I have ever had.

She had gone to D.C. with the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition to lobby Congress and protest at certain senator’s offices, urging them to pass a clean DREAM Act with the spending bill. To make her point stronger, she volunteered to be arrested by refusing to leave the area outside Sen. Chuck Grassley’s office after three police warnings. CIRC later paid her bail.

Regardless of political affiliation, I’ve always been amazed by the power of passion plus determination, and Gutierrez, in her actions, embodied both.

As a budding journalist, I was fascinated to learn of the many details poured into an act of protest such as this. Every action was to make a point, from the senator’s they chose to protest to the location of the protest (inside versus outside the office significantly changed the risk of arrest).

It took hours to fact check the details surrounding and leading up to Gutierrez’s arrest. I spent half an hour alone finding Grassley’s exact stance on immigrant rights, due to a request from my editor, Haley Candelario, delaying publication until the next day.

Looking back on it now, I consider the piece one of my most thorough. But as proud as I was of the composition of the article, I never expected it to break 1,000 reads in the first few days or rise to 7,000 later in the week. I realized this was a story this campus cared about.

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And while Gutierrez’s arrest was not specifically covered by any other media outlet and the general protests were lost in the larger media scene. That, to me, makes the story and the attention it received even more uniquely situated to us as a campus newspaper and as students.

The Collegian is a paper for this student body and while yes, national and larger state events do affect us, it doesn’t always feel like it.

In this story, I saw layers of actions and consequences reverberating from national tensions to the nation’s president to state organizations right down to one fellow student’s act of defiance.

It was an almost perfect example of the place each story has in a bigger event and the importance of giving voice to each of them; that is the role I strive to fulfill as a journalist.

Collegian reporter Samantha Ye can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @samxye4.