WASHINGTON – Nearly 1,000 teenagers in yellow shirts and carrying yellow and white signs saying “Protect Immigrant Rights” rallied near the Capitol Reflecting Pool Thursday to protest immigrant treatment in detention facilities and raids against undocumented workers.
The protesting teens chanted, “No ban, no wall, America’s for all!”
The American Civil Liberties Union organized the protest as a culmination of its summer Advocacy Institute, a camp for rising junior and senior high school students to get firsthand experience in advocating for social justice.
Carolina Escobar, an 11th grader from Houston and first-year student in the ACLU program, spoke to the teens about last weekend’s threat of massive Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids against undocumented immigrants, raid which largely failed to materialize.
“During the ICE raids, I was worried that my parents wouldn’t come home” she said. “We were born in this America, but we don’t have to live in this America.”
In an interview later, Escobar said immigration reform should not be a partisan issue but instead a fight t for civil liberties for undocumented immigrants like her parents.
“We don’t associate ourselves with Republicans or Democrats, we associate ourselves with civil liberties,” she said. “They may not have the rights of a legal citizen, but they have the rights of a human being.”
Students stormed the Capitol Thursday morning, visiting congressional offices to demand action to end family separations, inhumane detentions and deportations.
The specific piece of legislation students advocated for was the “Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act,” introduced by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., in April. It would set minimum standards for federal immigrant detention centers.