(Editor's note: This article has been updated throughout.)
In Grayson County on Thursday, the “Day without Immigrants” didn’t go without notice.
A trio of Sherman girls brought their wishes for the day to the courthouse square in Sherman. With picket signs in hand, Kathia Suarez, Vicky Sosa and Yailin Garcia gathered with friends and others to protest what they see as an anti-immigrant agenda proposed by President Donald Trump.
“We are trying to give a voice to the people who were too scared to come out and their voices can’t be heard because of that fear,” Suarez said.
She said they are just trying to speak out for their families.
“For our parents, our uncles, our aunts, everyone,” she said.
During his campaign for president, Trump said he would deport undocumented immigrants and, after taking office, signed an executive order barring foreign nationals from Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Yemen from entering the country for 90 days, all refugees for 120 days and all refugees from Syria indefinitely. A temporary restraining order that was upheld by a three-judge panel on The Ninth Circuit Court earlier this month put the brakes on that executive order.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was the first state AG to file an amicus brief in support of Trump's order.
“The law makes it very clear that the president has discretion to protect the safety of the American people and our nation’s institutions with respect to who can come into this country,” Paxton said in a news release earlier this week. “The safety of the American people and the security of our country are President Trump’s major responsibilities under the law.”
On Thursday, Trump promised a new executive order next week that would withstand the court. “The new order is going to be very much tailored to what I consider to be a very bad decision,” the president said in a news conference Thursday.
The three organizers said they each attend Sherman schools and took the afternoon off to protest because they have spent years in class learning about other Americans who stood up for what they thought was right. Sosa, 16, goes to Perrin Learning Center and said her teachers knew she planned to take part in the demonstration. Garcia, 18, and Suarez, who said she is a senior, both attend Sherman High School.
“We got a lot of bad comments saying education is over (above) protesting,” Suarez said. “But it’s one day. I mean, I went all last week when I was sick. I’m not being lazy. I’m trying to make our voice be heard because that’s why God gave us a voice.”
“Most of my teachers knew I was coming out to do this and they were OK with it,” Sosa said. “I mean, it’s for a good cause, missing one day of school isn’t going to bother me much.”
The three said they really wanted to draw attention to the fact that deportation doesn’t just impact the life of the person who is deported.
“Deportation separates families,” Garcia said. “It separates children from their parents.”
“You know, for anyone who is trying to be here (in America), of course everything should be done legally,” Suarez said. “But sometimes there isn’t time to do everything legally because of the fear that there is in our (home) countries.”
She said many people come to America to escape violence and there isn’t time to file all of the needed paperwork and wait to be allowed in legally.
All three of the girls were born in the U.S. but they do know some people who have come into the country undocumented.
“I know many people, including my friend who was torn apart from her mom,” Suarez said. “And that hurts me, to not be able to do anything for my friend and it hurts her mom to not be able to do anything for her daughter.”
Garcia didn’t agree with the idea that people who are born in the U.S. to undocumented parents should have to leave the country with their parents.
“I was born here,” she said. “Isn’t that the law? I am a U.S. citizen, just because I have immigrant parents doesn’t change that.”
Sosa said that kind of thinking is wrong.
“We are all immigrants,” she said. “We all came to this country at one time unless we’re Native American. So just because it is a different time period, it would be wrong to say that we couldn’t be citizens.”
Suarez said the people who are saying unkind things about them on social media and in other places are just repeating history.
“We see it all of the time,” Suarez said. “We saw it in Germany with the Jews and we saw it centuries ago with African Americans here in America. And we are seeing it once again just toward immigrants,” she said.
She explained she knows about all of that history because she learned it in history class. The same class where she learned that Americans change the way this country does things by protesting peacefully until people see that change is needed.