Houston immigrant families take part in protest 'A Day Without Immigrants'

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Feb. 14 marks Valentine's Day, but the date held extra meaning for a contingent of Houstonians taking part in the nationwide 'A Day Without Immigrants' protest.

RELATED: Houston immigrant families to participate in nationwide demonstration on Monday

"The idea is that folks take time off of school and work in order to bring attention to the plight of immigrants," said Cesar Espinosa of FIEL Houston. "We want to show that immigrants make a vital part of our economy and society."

Organizers hope the act of immigrants staying away from work, school, and commerce will spark conversations regarding immigration reform, including the path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. FIEL Houston estimates between 2,000 to 3,000 people attendeded the local event on Monday.

'A Day Without Immigrants' got its legs from social media - most notably the TikTok account of a College Station resident.

Carlos Espina has been posting immigration-related videos to his account since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It went viral," said Espinosa.

Houstonian Jennifer Guzman brought her young siblings to the protest, which she says was an act dedicated to their parents.

"They really were accepting that we have to make sacrifices," Guzman said. "My parents are just as important as their United States education."

Many attendees felt the Biden Administration has failed to deliver on campaign promises regarding immigration reform. Raquel Haifa Chantres, who carried a sign directly appealing to President Joe Biden, said she won't give up the fight until something changes.

"We love this country," said Chantres. "We just want to live here with a real dignity."

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