Texas teens took part in a quinceañera-themed protest Wednesday morning on the south steps of the Capitol to voice their opposition to Senate Bill 4, the so-called sanctuary cities ban.
About 50 people were also there to support the 15 young Latinas, who donned the puffy party dresses commonly seen at the coming-of-age celebrations. Some of the participants told their stories of how the law would affect them as daughters of immigrants.
“When Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill into law on May 7, he disrespected my community,” said Magdalena Juarez, 17, and one of the teens dressed as quinceañeras. “If lawmakers want to attack and criminalize us, then we will fight back. We will resist through celebrating our families and our culture.”
SB 4, which was signed in May but won’t go into effect until Sept. 1, would prohibit police chiefs and sheriffs from barring their officers from asking people about their immigration status during an arrest or a lawful detention, such as a routine traffic stop. The law has since drawn heavy criticism from immigration advocacy groups and Latinos, as well as triggered several protests and demonstrations across the state.
The protest, which was organized by the local Latino activism group Jolt, began with the women performing a choreographed dance routine — a tradition of quinceañeras — to songs that supported their stance including “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” and “Somos Más Americanos.” The teens ended the dance with their fist in the air as a symbol of resistance.
“We refuse to submit to an agenda of hate, and we refuse to be ashamed of who we are,” said Cristina Tzintzun, founder and director of Jolt. “This (event) was an opportunity to uplift our community culture.”
State Rep. Rafael Anchia, a Dallas Democrat and chairman of the Mexican-American legislative caucus, praised the teens on the Capitol steps and promised he will continue to fight against SB 4 in the legislature and the courts.
“Not only are they brave to be here and fight on behalf of their parents, but they are the future of this state and the future of this country,” he said.
After the event outside, the quinceañeras walked to lawmakers’ offices. They gave homemade paper flowers to those who were against SB4, provided flyers on the how the bill affects Latino communities to those who voted in favor, and reminded them they would be able to vote in a few years and have no intention of going anywhere.
“I want every Latino here to know that we are an 11 million, 40 percent, of the population here in Texas,” said Viridiana Sanchez, 16. “And if these politicos think we are going to go back down to where we came from, we’re not, because our ancestors have worked way too hard for us to be where we are.”