Rob Shimshock, DCNF
Texan high school students on Wednesday protested the ICE detention of an illegal alien classmate, who had previously assaulted a female student.
Students at Stephen F. Austin High School in Houston protested the ICE detention of 19-year-old illegal alien student Dennis Rivera-Sarmiento, who was arrested in late January for assaulting a female student and subsequently transferred to ICE, reported Newsweek.
ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa said Rivera-Sarmiento was supposed to exit the United States prior to March 4, 2015. ICE had previously released the 19-year-old illegal alien in 2013 with an order of supervision.
Students carried signs and chanted over Rivera-Sarmiento’s ICE detention.
Students at Austin HS walk out in protest of student who was detained by ICE #FreeDennis @abc13houston pic.twitter.com/84oOHxxG34
— Mayra Moreno ABC13 (@MayraABC13) February 14, 2018
One student alleged that Rivera-Sarmiento’s assault charge stemmed from self-defense from bullies.
“[The protest is] for Dennis and we are doing this because he was just defending himself from bullies,” said Sara Martinez, a senior at Austin High School. “[Houston Independent School District] did him injustice by working with the police, they should protect their students and not fail them.”
Shout out to the students at Stephen F. Austin High School in Houston who walked out of class today after another student was arrested by ICE. Y'all are beautiful.#FreeDennis pic.twitter.com/0Q5dlsdFEt
— Midwest People's History (@MPHProject) February 15, 2018
The school district rejected culpability for the illegal alien’s arrest.
“In line with the commitment expressed by both the Board of Education and the Superintendent, HISD has not used district resources to assist in deportation actions and we do not report students to ICE,” said the district in a statement obtained by Newsweek. “Our Superintendent and administration remain steadfast in the district’s commitment to educating every student regardless of their immigration status.”
Immigrant youth group United We Dream started a petition to free Rivera-Sarmiento, stating, “high school is for education, not criminalization and deportation.” The petition has obtained over 9,000 signatures by press time.
Rivera-Sarmiento gained admission to study at Lamar University and Texas A&M Corpus Christi in the fall, according to United We Dream. The group backed up Martinez’s assertion that the student had defended himself, claiming that “bullies made fun of him for being undocumented, going so far as to throw bottles at him.”
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