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‘Day Without Immigrants’ strike inspires Texas protest—organized by high schoolers

'We deserve to stay here.'


Audrey Browning


Posted on Feb 16, 2017   Updated on May 24, 2021, 11:48 pm CDT

The viral “Day Without Immigrants” strike inspired many protests around the country on Thursday, standing against the so-called travel ban, proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall, and other remarks from President Trump. In the border state of Texas, children of immigrants followed suit with their own event.

High school seniors in Austin, Texas, made a Facebook chat about the national “Day Without Immigrants” protest and decided to organize a peaceful march in solidarity.

A common chant throughout the march’s mile-long journey from city hall to the state Capitol was “el pueblo unido jamás será vencido,” which roughly translates to “the people united will never be defeated” in English. 

Lisbeth Soto, one of the organizers and a senior at Austin’s Anderson high school, said she’s not surprised the march became popular so quickly since social media helps things go viral. She does, however, hope the protests across the country remain peaceful and goal-focused.

“We wanted a peaceful protest because we’re here to prove that we want to stay here, that we deserve to stay here,” Soto told the Daily Dot. “We decided to come here and bring American flags instead of other countries’ flags because, if we want to stay here, we should show that we are appreciative of being here in this country.”

Lizbeth Soto (organizer), unknown, Zaira Garcia-Gutierrez (organizer)

Lizbeth Soto (organizer), unknown, Zaira Garcia-Gutierrez (organizer)

Photo by Audrey Browning

Soto, who was born in the U.S., said fear from her undocumented family and friends about the presence of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Austin made her want to stand up for the silenced.

Texas state Sen. Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston) echoed a similar belief and hopes this tactic inspires both social and legislative change at the city, state, and federal levels.

“It’s good to see people stand up for themselves and demand recognition of the many contributions they make,” Garcia told the Dot via email. “I applaud their nonviolent response to a hateful climate. Where there is hate, let us spread love.”

Many other participants expressed similar inspirations and backgrounds, usually alluding to the Trump administration’s policies and opinions on immigration.

“[My mom] crossed the border at 12 years old and almost died. People don’t understand how hard it is,” said July Jasper, a protester and senior at Austin’s Manor High School. “I’m here for a future. We have dreams. We will not be stopped.”

Yulisa Maldonado, Angel Bravo, July Jasper, all seniors at Manor High School

Yulisa Maldonado, Angel Bravo, July Jasper, all seniors at Manor High School

Photo by Audrey Browning

Austin’s march wasn’t alone. People gathered in other cities across the country, and some showed their solidarity on social media.

Not everyone, however, was so supportive. The issue sparked political passions across social media.

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Sergio Vasquez and Victor Castillo, protesters in the Austin march, claim immigrants have earned their right to be in America.

“We contribute to the community just like anyone else,” Castillo said. “We claim [our right] to be here because we contribute. A lot of people are afraid. We are here for them.”

Correction: Lisbeth Soto was born in the U.S.

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*First Published: Feb 16, 2017, 5:33 pm CST