On Tuesday, high school senior Rocio Ramirez tearfully told a large crowd at the Capitol her father was deported two weeks ago.
“I’m just here to show people to not give up and to keep on fighting, because I don’t want any other family to go through what I am going through,” Ramirez said. “It’s so difficult on me since I am the youngest and my sisters and my brother are studying.”
That morning, a crowd marched from City Hall to the Capitol for a Day of Action for Immigrants and Refugees, a demonstration mainly protesting state legislation outlawing cities from protecting undocumented immigrants.
At 9:30 a.m., protesters outside City Hall held signs challenging Senate Bill 4, which would strip funding for “sanctuary cities,” or those with policies protecting undocumented immigrants. The bill passed the Senate earlier this month and has yet to be assigned to a House committee.
Many like Maria Robles, an Arlington resident, came from all over the state to encourage the House, which has yet to vote on SB 4, to kill the bill. Robles drove three hours to fight for her undocumented husband.
“He doesn’t drive anymore,” Robles said. “It’s scary to think that if he goes to the store or picks up one of our kids from school, that he will be taken away.”
Several buses dropped off high school and college activism groups from across the state. Sandra Elias, a sophomore from Lone Star Community College, came with about 100 other students who are part of an immigration rights organization in Houston.
Elias held a sign reading “campus police are supposed to protect students not deport them,” and it is not campus police’s job to turn undocumented immigrants over to federal agents, Elias said.
“We don’t want this bill to cause these students to be in fear of going to school and with that happening, students will not go to school and the schools will lose funding,” Elias said. “It isn’t right for campus police to be basically (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents.”
State Sen. Chris Turner, D-Arlington, spotted Elias’s sign from a podium on the Capitol steps and asked her to hold it up higher, eliciting cheers. Turner said he will defend the Dream Act, which allows undocumented students to stay in the U.S. to finish college.
“We’re going to do everything we can to fight to make sure our college campuses are safe places for all students, that the Dream Act is preserved for our Dreamers all across this state, and to make sure that people understand that Texas is stronger together than it is when we’re divided,” Turner said.
Rocio Ramirez told the Daily Texan how federal ICE agents deported her father after he was released from prison. Ramirez, who is in the top 10 percent of her class, said she will focus on her education despite the adversity.
“I’m going to continue studying and hopefully I get a job so I can help out my mom,” Ramirez said. “I continue studying because … what he came here for was for us to have a better life than he had.”