By the end of the hour-long rally Wednesday night, white puffs of breath were coming from the huddled group on the State House grounds. But Columbia Organizing For Action and the dozens of people that came out to support the Dream Act weren't deterred by the cold or the rain.
"I never know what to expect when it rains as far as turnout," Indivisible Midlands co-chair Julie Edwards said. "But I really think that should send a good strong message to our legislators that ... dozens of people on a Thursday night, cold and rainy, came out to say that we support immigrants in our community."
Those at the event included local high schoolers, USC students and Columbia residents. One person even drove down from Greenville, which she said was "a small thing" to support immigrants.
One of the speakers, Laura Cahue, manages the Grassroots Alliance for Immigrants Rights and campaigns for DACA recipients. "We run the risk of exacting an enormous sacrifice on people who know what it means to cross a river or a desert into a better life," she said.
Griselda Cervantes has experienced this sacrifice first-hand. Her father was deported to Guadalajara, Mexico, in August. She acted in a short play as part of the rally, something she said was valuable in demonstrating the destructive power of current immigration law.
In addition to the play, local musician and USC alumnus Pedro Lopez de Victoria sang and played guitar.
"What I can do is contribute my work and my music in agreeance with a greater cause," he said. His family is Puerto Rican, so he has American citizenship, but sympathizes with the 800,000 DACA recipients.
The goal of the event was to promote a Dream Act by the end of the year. On Sept. 5, President Donald Trump ended the DACA program while giving Congress six months to pass a solution. Senator Lindsey Graham has co-sponsored legislation that would give all DACA recipients citizenship, but the bill hasn't been brought up for a vote.
"The more and more we talk to Dreamers in our community, the more we realize we had no idea what kind of fear and scrutiny they were living under," Edwards said. "These are people that are in our classrooms, these are our neighbors."