Since Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 4 (SB 4) into law under cover of night in early May, activists and politicians have come together in hopes of dismantling the harmful sanctuary cities ban before it goes into effect on September 1. They’ve protested. They’ve put pressure on elected officials. And they’ve raised legal challenges. Next week, 15 young women – aged 15 to 16 – will don puffy, bright quinceañera dresses to combat the hate and racism that led to SB 4 while simultaneously celebrating their culture. Hosted by Jolt – a nonprofit that gives Latinos the tools and support they need to affect change – Quinceañeras at the Capitol will draw attention to the negative effects of SB 4.
“The idea for Quinceañeras at the Capitol came from one of our volunteers,” Tania Mejia, Jolt’s communications director, told Remezcla through email. “She had been going to the Capitol for rallies and events against SB4 and saw young women taking quinceañera photos at the Capitol. We thought that this event would be a great way to show people that this is our home, celebrate our culture, and send the message that young Latinas are standing up to the ongoing attacks on our community by our elected officials who work at the Capitol.”
At the event – which takes place on Wednesday, July 19 – the women will take turns reciting 15 reasons why they’re against SB 4. And much like at any quinceañera, the young women will perform a choreographed dance. The only difference is they’ve strictly chosen songs with strong political messages. K’naan, Residente, Riz MC, and Snow Tha Product’s “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” as well as Los Tigres del Norte’s “Somos Más Americanos” will blare through the capitol.
The quinceañeras hope their efforts will motivate other young Latinx to join the fight, and as September 1 nears, Texans’s resistance is especially crucial. Enacting the law will do more than ban sanctuary cities. SB 4, which has earned comparisons to Arizona’s “show me your papers” law (SB 1070), allows police officers to ask children about their immigration status, encourages racial profiling because of a “show me your papers” clause, and gives law enforcement permission to target the most vulnerable undocumented immigrants at homeless shelters and domestic violence centers.
SB 4 will force all officials to carry out anti-immigrant policies. Failure to comply with the provisions laid out in the bill could result in a penalty of $1,500 for the first time, and then $25,500 for each subsequent offense.
It’s not a future these 15 young women want for Texas, and that’s where the quinceañera comes into play. “Quinceañeras aren’t just about parties – they are coming-of-age celebrations that strengthen the bonds of family,” Mejia added. “They are also about uniting community in celebration, which is what we need to do to stop hateful and racist policies that hurt Latinos.”