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Students Rally In Houston Demanding Release Of Peer Recently Detained By ICE

They marched around Austin High School, where Dennis Rivera-Sarmiento used to attend

A large group of people, many of them students from Austin High School, rallied on February 14, 2018 in Houston demanding the release by immigration authorities of Dennis Rivera-Sarmiento, a peer who was recently arrested and is at risk of deportation.
A large group of people, many of them students from Austin High School, rallied on February 14, 2018 in Houston demanding the release by immigration authorities of Dennis Rivera-Sarmiento, a peer who was recently arrested and is at risk of deportation.

A large group of people, many of them students from Austin High School, rallied Wednesday in Houston demanding the release by immigration authorities of a peer who was recently arrested and is now at risk of deportation.

 

According to a statement from the Houston Independent School District (HISD), officers with its police department arrested Dennis Rivera-Sarmiento, a 19 year-old Honduran national, in late January after responding to a “reported assault of a female student across the street from the Austin High School campus.”

The HISD statement added that “a verbal exchange” between Rivera-Sarmiento and a female student “led to a physical confrontation” that caused the female student being taken to the hospital.

The HISD Police transferred custody of Rivera-Sarmiento to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) and, according to Leticia Zamarripa, a spokeswoman with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), ICE agents lodged a detainer request with the HCSO on January 31st and the Sheriff’s Office transferred custody to the federal agency that same day.

Zamarripa detailed that charges of assault causing bodily injury had been filed against Rivera-Sarmiento, who entered the United States illegally in March 2013.

The ICE spokeswoman added that Rivera-Sarmiento had been released on an order of supervision and was supposed to depart the country on or before March 5, 2014.

The rally, which was in part coordinated by members of United We Dream (UWD) –the country’s largest ‘dreamer’ organization—, took place around noon with the crowd gathering outside of the school and marching around it, partly watched by Houston ISD Police officers.

They carried banners with slogans such as “Free Dennis”, “Education Not Deportations” and “Black Latino Unity”, and chanted slogans with words such as “undocumented, unafraid”, and also criticized President Donald Trump.

Some of the students that participated in the “action,” as defined by UWD, demanded that schools create “safe spaces” for students.

UWD is sponsoring an online petition that at this point has over 9,000 supporters asking for the release of Rivera-Sarmiento and arguing that he was defending himself the day he was arrested “after he was repeatedly bullied by his classmates” for being undocumented.

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