The protests against Trump’s America are far from over.
On July 19th, 2017, 15 young women were on the steps of the Texas State Capitol in Austin, each dressed in traditional, colorful quinceañera gowns. Each gown was adorned with a ribbon; rather than being printed with celebratory exclamations, they read “Equality,” “Accountability,” and the like. Their dresses were not worn for birthdays, but to demonstrate against the immigration enforcement law set to go into effect on September 1st.
The law, which is currently Senate Bill 4, permits “Texas law enforcement officers to request proof of legal residency during any routine detention – for example, a traffic stop.” Under what is commonly referred to as the “show-me-your-papers” law, Texas police officers are equated with immigration officers. In gaining this power, they are no longer under the absolute purview of local government. The law also bans sanctuary cities, demanding that state governments follow federal immigration laws.
Furthermore, the law, signed by Governor Greg Abbott is not the only controversial law he’s supported. Abbott has also been associated with the “bathroom bill” intended to crack down on rights for the transgender community. Supported by far-right conservatives, Abbott’s agenda places San Antonio residents at the brink of drastic change.
For the children of immigrants and immigrants themselves, SB4 is horrifying. It nullifies the priority list for deportations that had placed criminals at the top and instead makes any undocumented immigrant a priority. It threatens the possibility of racial profiling amongst police officers, and increasingly strained relationships between officers and their communities.
Jolt Texas is an activist group in Texas, centered around building the political influence of Latinos in government. Their aim is to use Latino culture to unite families and communities and to combat unjust legislation. They co-organized the protest. Founder Cristina Tzintzun commented “we want legislators to know and Trump to know that we won’t sit idly by while legislation of hate is passed.”
The participating young women performed a choreographed dance to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done),” and “Somos Mas Americanos,” by Los Tigres del Norte. They gave empowering speeches and entered the capitol to speak with legislators.
It is chilling to hear the women declaring: “We are brown and beautiful. And we won’t back down. Because we are Texas.” Seventeen-year-old Magdalena Juarez states, “This is our home, and we will not be disrespected in our own home.” They voice the concerns of immigrants everywhere, undocumented or not, who deserve the equal respect and opportunity of any American citizen. These girls embody an era of resistance that is much-needed, and unlikely to end.