Hundreds of students walked out of Austin High School in southeast Houston on Wednesday after they say a student was bullied over his immigration status then unfairly arrested after he defended himself.
Protestors tell us that student, Dennis, was walking to soccer practice when someone he didn’t know started calling him names because he’s undocumented. They say when Dennis went to school officials to report what happened, he was arrested.
Around 200 Austin High School students skipped the cafeteria and took to the streets early Wednesday afternoon to protest that decision.
“I don’t think that there was any need for that,” said Damaris, a community organizer with United We Dream Houston, which advocates for fair treatment of immigrant youth and families. “They didn’t handle the situation well.”
Damaris and other community activists and students say Dennis was defending himself and shouldn’t have been booked into the Harris County Jail, which voluntarily assists ICE. They say Dennis’ fingerprints were taken and shared with ICE, which placed an immigration hold on the student.
Advocates are also upset, saying ICE agents moved Dennis over 40 miles away from his friends, family, and attorney.
“Bullying is bullying everywhere, and schools need to take action,” said Damaris. If they had the resources for these students, there wouldn’t be any need for HISD police to get involved.”
However, Sergio Lira, an HISD Board Trustee, said Wednesday that Dennis assaulted a female student, and HISD police were following the Code of Conduct.
“There is some discussion that there was a fight involved, that there was a boyfriend-girlfriend breakup, and those are usually pretty intense in high school, and that led to a physical altercation,” said Lira.
Lira was adamant that no one from the district called ICE.
“HISD officials, campus officials, HISD police, we do not work with ICE at all,” said Lira.
The teen is charged with Assault with Bodily Injury.