By Hannah Lathen/ managing editor
TCC students were among thousands of people holding signs reading “My heart belongs to an immigrant” and “Y’all means all” marching for immigration reform as part of the April 9 Mega March in Dallas.
Protesters marched from the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin Guadalupe to Dallas City Hall where a rally was held.
NE student Marissa Chibli kicked off the rally by singing the national anthem. Her mother works closely with LULAC, League of United Latin American Citizens, and through that connection, she said she was asked to sing.
“My family and I are pretty politically involved in everything, so we believe in everything that this march stands for,” she said.
Having to remain backstage for the rally, Chibli said she could not march before her performance.
“My adrenaline was going crazy because at the time, at the beginning of the march, there was so many people,” she said. “Right when I went up there, the camera was on me and all that, so I started shaking, but it was adrenaline mixed in with nerves mixed in with excitement.”
The most moving part of the march, Chibli said, was the thousands of people that came out.
“I just want America to see that families shouldn’t be separated, and all races and all religions should be welcomed into our country, and we should be building bridges not walls,” she said.
Chibli helped close the rally by performing two Selena songs.
SE student Anna Trujillo was one of the marchers. She said she came out because she cares about the cause and her parents were immigrants.
“Just watching itself [the march] is really powerful,” she said. “Being in a crowd of people who believe the same thing you do, that’s really amazing for me.”
The rally featured multiple speakers including U.S. Reps. Marc Veasey and Joaquin Castro as well as Martin Luther King III.
“I am truly honored to have the opportunity to stand with you today as this great demonstration and this march that we partook in raises a very significant issue around immigration reform,” King said.
Hearing King speak, Trujillo said, was the most moving part of the rally for her.
“I wanted to cry,” she said. “His voice carried into my soul and into my bones.”
Trujillo said she hopes more college students become involved.
“College students are so important in parts of movements like this,” she said. “It is so vital to the community.”
Former TCC student Natalie Beech said she was not only marching for immigrants’ rights but also for health care and women’s rights.
“Us all getting together and making a statement — numbers speak,” Beech said.
Former TCC student Elia Ornelas said she attended the march with her sister, TR student Piedad Ornelas because they are both immigrants.
“I hope that America gets a visual of how many people are affected by or concerned about things like deportations, actors of terror, discrimination and overall feelings of inequality in this country,” she said.
Ornelas said the biggest thing she took away from the event is that things won’t change overnight.
“I had a lot of people ask me, ‘Well, what is a walk going to do?’” she said. “And that’s kind of ignorant to me because it’s obviously not about the march. It’s about solidarity.”
Everyone was there because they want change, Ornelas said.
“Each time an event like this occurs, it’s like a drop of water in a cup, and each time it’s going to get more and more full until it overflows and something will happen for our immigrant communities,” she said. “It takes time and dedication, but nothing worth having comes easy.”
March organizer Domingo Garcia told the crowd they are marching because they want to send a message to Washington.
“We march because the Statue of Liberty stands for American values, and it welcomes everybody no matter where you come from, no matter your accent, no matter what your religion, no matter what you come from in terms of your community,” he said. “Everybody is welcome in the United States of America.”
Immigrants are not political pinatas to be used to kick around for political points, Garcia said.
“We are human beings,” he said. “We are families. We are building America with our hands.”