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3/28 Houston, TX: Immigrant Students Take a Stand at City Hall
Released 31 March 2006  By re_evolve

Immigrant Students Take a Stand at City Hall
by re_evolve Tuesday March 28, 2006

Students from all ends of our sprawled city made the march to city hall to protest repressive immigration laws proposed by the government of this country. It rained cold all morning in Houston, but the heat in the passionate hearts of these youth kept them going regardless of the weather or the distance.
Arriba los jvenes

Our first call this morning was that students from Jersey Village were being harassed by the cops saying that they were coming with buses to arrest the students if they did not turn back to their schools because they were breaking curfew.

Calls kept pouring in reporting that there were walk-outs happening all over the city and that students needed support from Spring Branch to city hall. At noon staff was released to take safety measures and ensure that legal resources were made available to the students that needed it.

A colleague who had gone to city hall to support told me that it seemed that things were wrapping up and that she was leaving. I came to find out that since 8:00 a.m. students were arriving to city hall to demonstrate against the pending immigration legislation to be debated beginning this Wednesday March 29th in the Senate. This flow of students would climax at about 600 at 2:00 pm.

Desmadre at City Hall
About seventy-five students standing in the rain, some shivering, were chanting and loudly saying their piece. Joe Mendoza from the High School for Law Enforcement said their protest happened at the spur of the moment that morning at school. That they had been talking about it for a while and no one really seemed like they were going to go through with it. About the rain he said, 'This rain doesn't matter to me. The weather can be whatever. I have to be here no matter what, because these immigration laws are wrong and I have to be here to say so.' This inspiring young man went on to say, ?Look around at all these buildings around us (in downtown) these buildings are kept they way they are because of us immigrants, this city knows that we are needed here for things to work and we are not afraid of these laws. We are not going anywhere. We are not criminals.?

Apart from the High School for Law Enforcement was Furr High, who came after San Houston High departed in the early part of the morning. But the students just kept coming. Word came that Milby, Chavez, Raul Yzaguirre, and the troopers from Jersey Village were making their way into town.

In total and at last count also present at city hall Tuesday were Willowridge, Marshall, Eisenhower, Waltrip, Lake Olympia, Hightower, Humble High, Reagan, Alta Charter, and another large group that arrived as I had to pull away to take students home to Jersey Village.

Going the Distance
Students from all ends of our sprawled city made the march to city hall to protest repressive immigration laws proposed by the government of this country. It rained cold all morning in Houston, but the heat in the passionate hearts of these youth kept them going regardless of the weather or the distance.

Students walked from as far as highway 6 south and 59 (Quail Valley), Humble High (Humble), Hightower High (45 North, past 1960) saying that they started early from when they did not show up to school.

One student from Hightower said of the walk, ?That is nothing, my parents had to walk further than that to be able to come here, they have sacrificed so much to bring us up here that walking in the rain all this way here is nothing. We weren?t going to stop until we got here?

And they didn?t stop. Students from Jersey Village carried their signs and flags all they way down 290 at one point going into the traffic and stopping the cars. Supporters were present to guide them back towards the sidewalks and acted as police liaisons. The students that came from the Sugarland area commented that they decided to hitch rides because there were people that could not walk anymore.

Arrests and Intimidation
According to students, Reagan High (Heights) was put on lockdown by lunchtime after approximately 150 students walked out. They proceeded to Jeff Davis High but that school also was locked down and no students were allowed to leave. Busses were placed to block the driveways of the school. Reagan students then proceeded to city hall to meet up with hundreds of other students on the steps of city call where they heard words of pride and support from state rep. Rick Noriega (I think), and embattled city councilwoman Carol Alvarado. City councilwoman Ada Edwards also came out to give a nod to the students who at that point were at their greatest number in the afternoon at about 600.

Students from Lake Olympia high (hwy 6 and Murphy Road) said that 30 people made it out of the school but 20 were arrested as the police were called in. The ten who made it ran into a park and five arrived at city hall to tell the story, the other five turned back to their homes.

Defense and support
Parents are interesting specimens of human behavior. Folks said that in the morning someone had brought the kids pizza, while in the afternoon another set parents brought burgers and sodas for the soaked students. They understood what their children were doing and were there to support them. But not all parents see it this way.

Not only do these students have to face punishment from their schools for having walked-out of school, but they also have to face the wrath of immigrant parents that have sacrificed their lives so that their kids can get a good education. Therefore it is unconscionable that their kids would ditch class. This is an important time for dialogue between parents and youth. While some did leave school just to support their friends and because it was something they had never participated before, most if not all knew the basics. That this legislation that is being debated in DC will change their lives, it will make criminals out of them and their families. That everything they have can be taken away and whatever dreams they have for the future will just have to remain as that, dreams not reality. This the youth don?t need position papers for. They know this in their hearts. And those out there that can be of support need to do it.

Teachers, talk about this in class. Give the students other tools that they can use to have an impact on the debate. Give them the instruments they need to focus their energy so they can make a stronger movement out of this. And parents, forgive the jĒvenes, they are just trying to speak up and this is what they saw as their option. This is democracy in action, talk to them about it and learn from their love of life and what goals they have. These young people are the best that his country has to offer and we must be there to support them in anyway we can. They are the doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, artists, and organizers of the future, lets learn from their courage.

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