On Sunday afternoon, hundreds of thousands of people gathered across the country to march for immigrant rights, responding to recently proposed legislation on immigration reform in both the House and the Senate. State legislation is also being proposed in Minnesota.
Blanca Martínez Gavi '08 organized a group of more than 20 St. Olaf students to attend Sunday's march.
Before piling into two vans, they decorated signs, shirts and a banner that read, "We are all immigrants. Students against HHR 4437."
Speakers at the march addressed the throng in English, Spanish, Oromo, an African language and Hmong. Many people wore T-shirts and carried signs with pro-immigrant messages such as, "I am a worker, not a criminal."
"It was greatness; it was a success," Mustafa Dualeh '06 said. He was excited about the number of marchers because of the attention it brought to immigration and the discrimination immigrants face in the state.
In Northfield, about 20 Latino middle and high school students walked out of school Monday morning and marched downtown, at Carleton and at St. Olaf to assert their presence in the Northfield community and to draw attention to the effects that immigration reform could have on them.
The marchers arrived at St. Olaf to chant outside Buntrock Commons, "St. Olaf, we need your support!"
The walk-out was organized by the high-school students, but supported by St. Olaf students.
"I think what these kids are saying is that without their parents [who are undocumented workers] they have no future," Martínez Gaviña explained.
At first, she said, St. Olaf students were receptive to the young marchers with cheering and clapping, but after about 15 minutes ignored the marchers. According to Martínez Gaviña, the reception at Carleton was more supportive - several Carleton students followed the crowd into town and to St. Olaf.