Students at an East Side San Jose high school will lead a workshop later this week to educate immigrant families about their rights. The bilingual class Thursday will review paths to legalizing undocumented residents, basic rights to remember when contacted by federal immigration agents and how non-citizens can pursue a college education.
“Because most of our students are immigrants or children of immigrants, they were terrified of Donald Trump being elected and his anti-immigrant politics being put into place,” said Cesar Juarez Ruiz, a social studies teacher at Downtown College Prep. “The students said, ‘We have to do something, let’s educate the community.’”
The morning after Trump’s presidential election victory, Ruiz said, his students got up from their desks in the middle of class and walked out in protest. Thousands of young people throughout the nation did the same, leaving their campuses to march against a leader who vowed to ramp up deportations.
For students at Downtown College Prep, however, that protest continued beyond Nov. 9. They formed a Social Justice Club and surveyed fellow students to find out how they could effectively resist policies by a president who has promised to put immigrant communities in the crosshairs. The results of that survey inspired the students to host a know-your-rights workshop.
“If we had just walked out the first day after we received news and if we hadn’t done anything after that, we wouldn’t get people’s attention and we really wouldn’t be helping the community,” said Isai Gallegos, a 16-year-old Downtown College Prep student.“But by continuing our agenda of doing things, we’re trying to actually make something happen and express how we feel and make a difference.”
To prepare for this week’s session, the students attended a training led by immigrant rights coalition SIREN (Services Immigrant Rights and Education Network). They now want to share what they learned with their peers and families.
An immigration lawyer will be on hand during the workshop, but the event is student-led. The public is invited to attend, especially parents of East Side students. The know-your-rights training runs from 6 to 7:30pm Thursday in Room C at Independence High School, 1776 Educational Park Drive in San Jose. Snacks will be provided.
Students will also use the event to promote the upcoming May Day march, which is organized by a broad coalition of community groups and expected to draw its biggest turnout in years. The international May 1 holiday celebrates workers and immigrants. In 2006, the march drew about 100,000 to the South Bay.
Organizers of the May Day march unveiled the following list of demands for the annual event, a San Jose tradition for more than half a century.
- We demand international peace and justice
- We demand a true representative democracy
- We demand transparent and accurate media
- We Demand full and fair employment
- We demand respect and dignity
- We demand equal access to education
- We demand healthcare and reproductive justice
- We demand safe, affordable housing
- We demand a healthy planet
- We demand criminal justice reform
- We demand immigration reform
For more information about May Day, here’s a link to the Facebook event page.