The strains of a Mexican ballad floated through the air as 150 Lehman High students marched along Kyle Parkway toward the H-E-B in Kyle Friday.
Many of the participants, who wore colors representing the Mexican flag, shouted various slogans while displaying a collage of signs during the march, which was an organized walkout from the campus.
While reasons for marching varied, many participated to voice their concerns for their families, who they feel could be threatened by recent Immigrations and Customs Enforcement operations in the area.
“It’s either one of us that’s actually an immigrant, or our parents are immigrants and some of our family, too,” one student said after the march.
According to a Hays CISD press release, the students staged a protest by walking out of the Lehman High building around 2:20 p.m. Friday.
Students who chose to participate were allowed to do so without interference from Lehman High staff. Faculty staff monitored the situation to “ensure the safety of the students while on campus,” the release said.
During the march, Kyle Police officers provided escort, as the students traveled one mile along Lehman Road to Dacy Lane and then to Kyle Parkway. Officers stopped traffic at certain points in order to allow protesters to march safely.
According to the release, the district has a “dual response” to the event. Hays CISD officials said they understand the current poltical climate and “can appreciate that some students feel compelled” to express their first amendment rights.
However, the district also finds it “equally important” to recognize the rights of other students and to ensure a disruption free environment.
“Leaving class without permission or skipping class is against the rules of Lehman High School and in Hays CISD,” the release said. “Additionally, there are policies and procedures that govern when campuses can be used for non-school activities. Many of these rules were violated by those who chose to protest.”
Potential punishments, however, were not on the minds of the student protesters, who took part in the march.
Lehman High student Denisa Villanueva said a fellow classmate Jesus Tovar came up with the idea of the walkout in a group chat, which was conducted via social media.
The group met in the cafeteria during 5th period and proceeded from there. Tovar and others were surprised at the turnout.
Some who walked with the group chose to do so out of the fear their families are experiencing.
“My best friend … she’s from (Mexico) and her family is scared to come out for anything,” one marcher said.
Another Lehman High student, whose first name was Hector, said a fellow extended family member, who is a foreign national, is “scared to come out of the house.”
“She asked me yesterday if I could go and do some chores for her,” Hector said.
Many who took part in the demonstration also opted to miss school during Thursday’s Day Without Immigrants
One student believed the Day Without Immigrants was effective from an economic standpoint.
Others believed their march would bring attention to their concerns.
“We’re not trying to cause any problems, we’re just showing our voices,” Villanueva said.
Gallery: Photos from Lehman Immigration March
Click to enlarge. (photos by Moses Leos III)