Dozens of demonstrators marched south of Mission Viejo Thursday afternoon in response to students' memories of growing up in fear of immigration raids.
Starting with about 24 college students, the protest group grew to about 60 walking through the largely Hispanic Las Villas neighborhood of San Juan Capistrano also known as La Zanja.
Many young children from the neighborhood joined the protest. See photos above.
San Juan was the last stop on the protest tour that included Anaheim, Santa Ana and Los Angeles. South Orange County was picked after Saddleback College students shared stories of growing up in fear of immigration raids in the area, Organizer Francisco Javier Bravo said.
Protesters held signs reading "undocumented and unafraid" and "stop tearing families apart."
They shouted slogans like:
- "Aqui estamos, no nos vamos. (We are here, we won't leave.)"
- "This is what democracy looks like."
- "Education yes, deportation no."
- "We're fired up and can't take it no more."
At the end of the march, the protesters started sharing their stories.
"(Immigration officials) took my dad and his friend away," said Marco Madariaga, a freshman. "I go home and see my mom cry. I never want to see that again. Stop separating families."
See video of the protest above.
Tom Airey, a world history teacher from , said he learned about the march on Facebook and wanted to show his support.
"A lot of you were in my class. I'm proud of you," Airey said. "You're my heroes. I don't say that lightly."
His wife, Lindsay, also addressed the crowd: "You guys brought me to tears so many times today," she said.
"As a documented, privileged white woman who grew up in Mission Viejo, I'm trying to understand this issue," Lindsay Airey said.
Nearby drivers showed mixed emotions. Some honked in support. Some gave demonstrators the middle finger.
Dulce Juarez, who is literally the face of the Estatos Unidos Campaign, said she confronted someone who offered the bird. She asked him why he did that. He told her to go home.
"I am home, because I am an educated woman," Juarez told him.