Group protests outside of Martina White’s Somerton office

Party of six: Members of the Pennsylvania Student Power Network protest outside Martina White’s office. TOM WARING / TIMES PHOTO

A half-dozen members of the Pennsylvania Student Power Network last week protested outside state Rep. Martina White’s district office at 10752 Bustleton Ave.

The organization is trying to stop HB 14, a bill introduced by state Rep. Jerry Knowles, a Schuylkill County Republican, that would cut state funding from colleges and universities that protect illegal immigrant students and staff from detention and deportation by the federal U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The students entered White’s office and spoke to staff. White was not in the office, and the students asked to set up a meeting with her. Two police vehicles were in the parking lot in case of trouble.

Aiden Castellanos, a University of Pennsylvania student, read a statement that said, in part, “Under the new administration, undocumented immigrants have been under heightened attack. This is wrong. Migration, the result of systemic forces that push people from their homelands, is a human right. Our universities must stand strong to protect it.”

Castellanos continued, “We are prepared to take action to defend all those who are under threat — undocumented immigrants with or without DACA status, refugees, Muslims, black people, queer people, trans people, women, people with disabilities and all people of color. We will not take any chances under a Trump presidency and we will continue to resist any policy that threatens any member of our community.”

The protesters walked outside and held signs in English and Spanish that read, “Education Not Deportation” and “Justice for All Immigrants.” They chanted, “Stand up. Get down. Philadelphia is an immigrant town,” and, “No hate. No fear. Immigrants are welcome here.”

White described Knowles’ legislation as being in its early stages, adding that she wants some clarification on the language.

“I have a few questions for the maker of the bill,” she said.

The House goes back into session on Monday. ••