SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Thousands of immigrants across the country stood up in solidarity with other immigrants. They were protesting a recent executive order that called for immigration raids.
Many of them were right here in the Lowcountry and Coastal Empire.
The peaceful march in Bluffton included immigrants and naturally-born Americans. They want people to know they're here to work hard and chase the American dream, not take from anyone.
A small group of marchers gathered in Bluffton Thursday for a "Day Without an Immigrant." The national movement called for marches across the country.
Noemi Baca—an immigrant herself—organized the march in Bluffton. Their message is simple.
"To support and raise our voice that we are here, and we are not criminals. We are here to work hard for our families," said Baca.
The group held signs and marched. Recent ICE raids targeting immigrants in Beaufort County adds to their fear.
"I'm so scared and kind of hurt by that because I know a lot of families that are going away apart," said Baca.
In Jasper County, more than half of the district's Hispanic students skipped school. The superintendent calls this a teaching moment for staff and other students. Their absence will be excused.
"I don't see it as opposing anything. I see it as a stance to 'please keep us inclusive into our melting pot,'" said Jasper County Superintendent Donald Andrews.
A marcher in Bluffton who has recent immigrants in his own family agrees.
"These people want to be Americans just like my grandparents did. My grandfather worked his whole life in a coal mine for nothing because he wanted to be an American," said Luke Guyler.
Down the road in Savannah, several stores and restaurants closed up shop including a Mexican restaurant in Pooler.
The owner immigrated 22 years ago, eventually becoming a resident. The same can't be said for many of his hard-working employees.
"We need to do something for these people," said El Potro owner Arnulfo Camrena.
Camrena plans to open back up Friday.
These marches are not against, but rather for the right to immigrate and live a better life.
The president maintains that these ICE raids not only target immigrants with criminal records, but also deliver on a campaign promise. The Department of Homeland Security has not released many details about the people they've arrested.