Sunset Park students are the latest to take a stand against President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban and recent increasing arrests and raids made by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
In response to a ‘Day Without Immigrants,’ a movement that encourage businesses, schools and others to close in solidarity, at around 12:15 p.m., hundreds of students left class at Sunset Park High School, 153 35th Street, and took to the streets, holding signs and chanting that they won’t be divided.
“It started with a post on Facebook that stated if you’re a part of an immigrant family or an immigrant not to show up to work or school, not to show up to anything,” said 17-year-old Casson Love. “We want to boycott to show that without these people, the community can’t survive, and our school took it upon ourselves, where instead of not showing up to school, at 12:15 we planned to walk out in protest.”
According to several students, the rally was organized by the students late last night and teachers were supportive of the initiative. “Part of it was student organization and word spread that the teachers understand what’s going on and they are encouraging us to if we want to march,” said student Benji Marin.
“Last night, the word spread through social media that we are having a walk out,” added Jose M. “It spread to the teachers and they were supportive.”
As the students marched around the school and then along Fifth Avenue, cars, construction workers and pedestrians encouraged them along the way.
“It’s great to see kids take to the streets like this,” said onlooker Ray M.
For students, the rally meant a lot more than time off of school.
“It’s something that should’ve been done a while ago,” said student John Abad. “I get the whole idea that some people think that immigrants are going to do something bad over here, but in reality there are so many hard-working immigrants that would do anything and are willing to become citizens of U.S. They thought coming here would bring freedom but seeing the way things are going, a lot of people are scared. For me personally, as a Hispanic, I can see their perspective because I have family members and friends who are immigrants.”
A lot of others marched for friends too wary to join in. “I’m legal and a lot of people inside the school, they don’t want to come outside but they support it because they’re illegal and afraid if they come outside, that they will get deported. So, for me, it’s speaking up for people that don’t have a voice for themselves,” said Dimarkus M. “I’m doing it for the whole Sunset community. I’ve lived here for a long time. My mom has worked at Costco for over 20 years. A lot of people are immigrants here but immigrants built America.”
“We have to do it for the kids,” added Santiago Briones. “They are getting traumatized that their parents might go away, like that woman in Arizona that got deported. Look at those parents now. It’s scary to see kids like that.”
The big turnout surprised many of the students. “It means just showing the community that we are here for them, that,m regardless of any type of injustice, we are here to stand and fight,” said Jose M.