Thousands rally at Texas Capitol for immigrant and refugee rights

USA TODAY College – March 3, 2017

More than 1,000 activists, students and community members gathered at the Texas Capitol last Saturday to rally for immigrant and refugee rights and show opposition to building a border wall and banning refugees.

Texas is one of the states with the most undocumented immigrants in the nation and has the second most DACA beneficiaries out of all 50 states, behind California.

Nearly 300,000 Texans are able to obtain temporary work permits, Social Security numbers and driver’s licenses because of the DACA program. Hundreds of those DACA immigrants are students at the University of Texas at Austin (UT), working toward their degree.

Plans for the border wall could also have a major impact on the Lone Star State. A proposed 20% tax on imports from Mexico would have a negative impact on the already struggling Texan economy, since a lot of goods are imported from their neighbor Mexico.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has already said there will be no sanctuary cities in Texas and state funding will be cut off from anyone who does not cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

In recent weeks, ICE raids have been occurring throughout the area, leaving many immigrants fearful. As of February 13, ICE has confirmed that 51 immigrant arrests have been made in the Austin area.

Demonstrators at this rally expressed their discontent with the Trump administration and fear for their immigrant and refugee friends. Families and neighbors and emphasized the need to take to the streets and take action.

Austin is already home to many organizations and initiatives dedicated to helping immigrants and refugees. Casa Marianella is an emergency shelter located near downtown Austin that provides hospitality for newly arrived immigrants and refugees. University Leadership Initiative is an organization at UT led by and advocating for undocumented immigrants. There is also the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition and several more organizations. Many of these groups were tabling at the rally to spread information.

Omar Rodríguez, a UT graduate student, was one of the organizers of the event. On the Facebook event page he said their mission was to bring awareness to these shared struggles of the Latino and Muslim communities in Texas.

“Our goal is to show solidarity, offer a space for safe community building and send a unified message to legislators and citizens,” Rodríguez said. 

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