Students Against the Camps

Students organize a march at the Capital to get their voices heard.


Students inside the Capital chanting 'Education no deportation' trying to get attention from thr governor of Iowa

Carolina Mendoza

Students Against the Camps is an activism group for students who want to use their voices to fight against the injustices towards immigrants and the inhumane treatment of people crossing the US-Mexico border. East High School is the first to have the group located in Des Moines, Iowa. Students Against the Camps is held because the people being held in the US immigration detention center, are being treated unfairly. Megan Geha, who organized the program in June, wishes it could spread around to other DMPS schools.

According to the New York Time, the children and adults do not have access to soap, toothpaste or being able to shower. The students and teachers want to stop the inhumane treatment.

“I totally understand, so now it’s time for people who have privilege, like white people, to step up and speak out for those people who are afraid,” Geha said. Currently, Megan Geha, Kristin MacDonald, and LaurieHuss- Steils along with students are trying to raise awareness of the issue by marching to the capital to get their voices heard. MacDonald is a Spanish teacher at East, and Huss-Steils is a Child Development teacher at East. They are trying to bring attention to what is going on. It encourages and empower the students to use their voices to the ones who can’t.

On November 18, the teachers and students, along with Monica Reyes, had a meeting after school regarding to the plan for the protest on November 19. Reyes is a mortgage lender in Des Moines, Iowa, is board President for Dream Iowa, which is a nonprofit focus on helping stimulate growth for the immigrant community through leadership development. She happens to be part of LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens). They work a lot with the Latin community helping with registrations and advocacy.

“Students Against the Camps is inspiring me to do more, hearing all these students reminded me the more I can do as a leader and adult,” Reyes said.

Andy Montalvo-Martinez is first generation Mexican American and is a junior at East. He is student leader in Student Against the Camps. He is in the group because immigration is a big issue, it impacts the Latino community and his family personally and hopes for a change.

“How people are being treated at the dentition center is very inhumane and un-American. I’m here for myself, my family and my ancestors,” Montalvo-Martinez said.

On November 19, at 4 p.m. students from East High marched to the Des Moines Capital and held signs, chanting, ‘Close the camps’.

By the time the student arrived at the capital, the local news was there such as KCCI 8 News. As well as Tyler Davis who works at the Des Moines Register, and Rodger Routh, who is a videographer. Reyes was a host and gave a speech outside the capital for fifteen minutes.

“Forget the wall, instead let’s tear down and rebuild the immigration process,” Reyes said.

Selene Sanchez and Andrea Perez are seniors at East. They are in Movement 515 and shared their outspoken poetry to the public. More than 20 students took their time to come and fight for the people who are not able to, because they are being treated poorly at the detention camps.

The students, people, and teachers went inside the capital to hand in the letter to Governor Kim Reynolds, unfortunately she was not there. But that did not stop the students. They tried once again. Students William Chhim, Axel Paz, Katelynne Rodriguez, Tony Thipyothin, Scarlett Froncoso, Dulce Flores, Mariella Ordaz-Garcia, Andy Montalvo-Martinez, Daniela Solis and Jennifer Bautista delivered the letter to the governor on December 3.

“Like high schoolers, take a stand on doing something they believe in, in a peaceful way,” journalist Tyler Davis said.

Not only were the students apart of the protest, but women from Moms Against the Camps were there also there, such as Mary Caponi. She was thrilled to see the students being able to organize something important.

“I feel like what we’re doing today is horrible,” Mary Caponi said.