Students Participate in National “Day Without Immigrants” Protest

Sophomore%2C+Skylar+Johnson%2C+carries+a+sign+that+says%2C+Fight+ignorance%2C+not+immigrants.

Photo by Jonah Varelli

Sophomore, Skylar Johnson, carries a sign that says, “Fight ignorance, not immigrants.”

Beau Prince, Staff Writer

At exactly 11:11 on Thursday, students at Sage Creek walked out of class in recognition of the national Day Without Immigrants.

The nation-wide protest spanned across numerous cities, with protests taking place from Washington D.C. to Chicago to San Francisco. At its core, the demonstration was a call for all immigrants and children of immigrants in the United States to stay home from work, school, and to avoid making purchases in an effort to highlight the role that immigrants play in society.

Though the protest called for the boycott of schools and other institutions, a group of Sage Creek students decided to partake in the protest by staging a walkout during third period.

Sophomore Fatima Enriquez was one of the organizers and leaders of the protest.

Photo by Jake Mock
Sophomore Fatima Enriquez (center) was one of the organizers of the march.

“We want to better ourselves in our education, so we wanted to show up, but we also wanted to make an impact as well,” Enriquez said.

The national Day Without Immigrants boycott comes following days of controversy involving the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, notably the week of raids on immigrants’ homes and the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants. Such events have clearly served as motivation for the organizers of the walk-out to mobilize the students of Sage Creek.

“It all comes down to fair immigration reform,” sophomore Jacob Navarro said, another organizer of the event. “From all the raids to the immigration checkpoint spots–those are not right,” Navarro said.

According to Navarro, the protest was largely a way of supporting those who have experienced prejudice due to their status as immigrants or first-generation Americans.

Photo by Jake Mock
Students walked down the Academic Mall at 11:11 a.m. on Thursday.

“Coming from a hispanic background, we tend to see lots of that discrimination… That’s why we’re doing this today. We’re speaking up for [friends and families],” Navarro said.

Additionally, although the protest held at Sage Creek was fundamentally different from those called for around the nation in that it circumvented a complete boycott, the original message of the Day Without Immigrants was not lost on the organizers of the walk-out.

“We wanted to show that immigrants are a big part of our school and we are not going to stand in silence,” Enriquez said.

Though much of the focus on immigration in the United States is placed on immigration from Latin American countries, the walk-out was not limited to Latin Americans.

Among the ranks of the protesters was senior Claudio Kaempfen. Kaempfen, a first generation Swiss American, says that while he personally has not been subject to prejudicial attitudes towards immigrants, he attended the walkout to stand in solidarity with those who have.

“I do support these other people here who have felt prejudice… I’m here to support them,” Kaempfen said. “Every immigrant deserves the same rights whether they come from Europe, Asia, South America or North America, even.”

Photo by Jake Mock
Sage Creek sophomore shows her support by leading the march back into the school holding a sign that reads “We Support Immigrants!”

Throughout the walk-out, principal Cesar Morales, along with other administrators and police officers, was busy monitoring the protest.

“It’s [a] balancing act between each student’s freedom of speech, and then from an administrative perspective…how our campus is flowing… Our responsibility is to make sure we have a safe campus,” Morales said.

Though it was the intention of the organizers to return to school during lunch, a number of students did not return after the walkout. There will be no special punishments for protesting, per California state law.

“Regardless if it was a protest or anything else, students who leave a classroom [that] they are supposed to be attending will have an unexcused absence,” Morales said. “It’s not about the activity, but rather the rules.”