Thomas Torres, a popular high school senior in Tucson AZ, is supposed to graduate from Desert View High School on May 22. His cap and gown are hanging in his bedroom closet.
Torres, 18, is in a Border Patrol holding facility and may be immigration court on graduation day. He’s an illegal immigrant who has been in the U.S. since he was a toddler. His family returned to Mexico years ago, leaving him in the care of friends.
On Monday, about 120 of Torres’ classmates marched from the school four miles to the county sheriff’s office to protest his arrest and possible deportation, and to demand his release.
Torres was arrested after a traffic stop by a county sheriff’s deputy over the weekend. He didn’t have a driver’s license — Arizona doesn’t issue licenses to people in the U.S. without authorization — and eventually admitted to being an undocumented immigrant.
His arrest comes at a time of heightened concern over migrants seeking to enter the U.S. and President Trump’s declaration of a crisis at the southern border.
“Thomas is the American Dream,” said one of the many homemade signs carried by students at the Monday protest, the Daily Star reports Others read, “Abolish the Border Patrol” and — in Spanish — “With Justice, There is Peace.”
Friends at the march said Torres played for the Desert View football team and regularly worked several jobs, including yard work and busing tables at a restaurant. He hopes to become an electrical engineer.
One protester, Lorena Rodriguez, said Torres has lived for years at her family’s home, says the She has launched a campaign to raise money for Torres’ legal costs.
“People like Thomas are needed in this country,” Rodriguez wrote on a fundraising website. “He’s a hardworking young man willing to better his future.”