Giant Puppets Rally for Immigrants at the Texas Capitol

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The way certain Texas politicians treat people who are immigrants is not only hateful and dangerous, it's just plain wrong. 

Texas is one of the most diverse states in the county. Over 145 different languages are spoken in Houston alone. Immigrants not only belong in Texas but make Texas the state that it is.

The ACLU of Texas partnered with renowned Houston-based street artist Kill Joy and Kitchen Table Puppets & Press to celebrate our immigrant communities through the arts — in the face of discriminatory border policies like Senate Bill 4 and Operation Lone Star.

Kill Joy and Rebo create puppets for an immigrants' rights rally

More than 100 people of all ages — most of whom come from immigrant backgrounds — spent weeks creating giant 15-foot puppets and accompanying protest art. 

While state politicians seek to divide us by stoking fear about the color of our skin or the languages we speak, making art brought Texans of different races and cultures together.

Volunteers shared stories, food, and friendship while working toward a state that welcomes all of us. No exceptions.

Volunteers making art for the rally for immigrants' rights

People work together to build puppets for an immigrants' rights rally against SB4

People build puppets for an immigrants' rights rally against SB4

On Saturday, March 9, 2024, more than 1,000 people from across the state descended on the Capitol in Austin to declare: Immigrants are welcome here!

The march and rally culminated a weeks-long "Journeys of Resistance" tour along the border and throughout the state. The day's events were organized by the Border Network for Human Rights, Frontera Texas Organizing Project, and 40+ other organizations. 

After marching from Austin City Hall through the city, advocates were greeted at the Texas Capitol by giant puppets depicting two immigrants: a mother and child. They waved and welcomed attendees.

In front of the puppets, hands symbolized the care and support that Texans offer each other.

People march through Austin in support of immigrants' rights

Rally for immigrants' rights in Austin

Two giant puppets greet attendees at an immigrants' rights rally

Boom! Boom!

Drumbeats rang through the streets. 

The scene grew tense as a giant puppet, representing a Texas politician like Gov. Greg Abbott, approached the mother and child. Three individuals dramatizing police officers — who would be responsible for enforcing the state's anti-immigrant deportation scheme under S.B. 4 — paced the lower steps, creating a sense of panic.

But the hands, representing community, intervened to safeguard the mother and child. The crowd cheered as birds, butterflies, and nopales swarmed the politician. 

Slowly, the politician and police retreated as people waved signs and shouted: 

"Keep families together!" 

"No S.B. 4!" 

"No OLS!"

Texas politician puppet at immigrants' rights rally

Rally for immigrants' rights in Austin

Texas politician retreats at immigrants' rights rally

Everyone could breathe again. 

The mother and child were safe. They raised their hands in gratitude for the power of community. The crowd responded with shouts of joy.

Danzantes performed a type of Indigenous dance that captivated the crowd with color, energy, and hope.


Giant puppets raise their hands at an immigrants' rights rally

Performers of Indigenous Mexican dance protest SB4 and rally for immigrants

Danzantes dance at a rally for immigrants' rights against SB4

Resistance is beautiful. 

Over the next hour, more than a dozen speakers shared reflections and rallying calls.

Border residents, local officials, and immigrants’ rights activists affirmed that states have no authority to set or enforce immigration policy. Laws like S.B. 4 would put communities of color across the state at risk of being harassed and detained by police. They fuel mass incarceration and waste millions of taxpayer dollars that could be spent on better schools, better roads, and better health care.

Most Texans agree that the current immigration system isn’t working. It forces millions into the shadows and shuts the door on people in need of safety.

We need policy solutions — but cruelty isn’t one of them. And laws like S.B. 4 will only make things worse.


Rally for immigrants' rights in Austin

Signs with "No SB4" and "Stop the violence. Stop the hate. Stope SB4"

Sign that reads "Migration is beautiful"

Immigrants belong in Texas.

We need the federal government to create a more fair, humane, and efficient immigration system. One that keeps families together and treats people with dignity and respect.

Let's keep advocating for policies that reflect our values — with giant puppets by our side.


Giant puppets and art at rally for immigrants' rights in Austin

Photography by Christopher Lee, Christian Toledo, and Levi Thompson
Videography by Mahlon White