Saturday, March 2, 2024

High School Students Walk Out To Protest Undocumented Classmate’s Detention

More than 120 students in Tucson, Arizona, walked out of class on Monday to protest their classmate’s detainment by U.S. Customs and Border Protection just weeks ahead of his graduation.

Pima County Sheriff’s deputies pulled over Thomas Torres Maytorena, an 18-year-old senior at Desert View High School, on Thursday night after determining the vehicle he was driving had an expired registration and a mandatory insurance suspension. Deputies asked him for ID, but he was unable to produce a driver’s license, according to a sheriff’s office statement.

After the teen said he was an undocumented immigrant, the deputies contacted Border Patrol, which took him into custody for an overstayed visa. Torres Maytorena’s supporters say the sheriff’s department’s collaboration with immigration authorities is unethical and dangerous.

Dozens of students marched roughly four miles from the high school to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, where they chanted “Free Thomas Now!” and held up banners with the phrase “Without Justice, There Is No Peace” written on them. Lorena Rodriguez, who created a GoFundMe campaign to help cover his legal expenses, told The Associated Press that the teen had been living with her family in Tucson for several years. “People like Thomas are needed in this country,” Rodriguez wrote on the fundraising page.

Torres Maytorena, a varsity football player for Desert View, is being detained at a federal holding facility in Casa Grande, Arizona, reported the AP. He is scheduled to appear in immigration court on May 22 ― the day he was supposed to graduate.

“This does not need to happen,” Daffne Anselmo, a Desert View student who attended Monday’s protest, told The Arizona Republic. “He should be in school right now. … He should be learning and finishing his couple of days off, we just want him to graduate.”