Most people have never done anything so courageous. Of course, most people’s lives don’t depend on it.
Four young people, three of whom are undocumented immigrants and students, were arrested yesterday on trespassing charges during a sit-in at the Tucson offices of Sen. John McCain. They’d come to demand that McCain support the DREAM Act, which would open a pathway to documented status for immigrant students. The students are part of a growing movement of Dreamers, demanding justice for immigrants.
The three undocumented students now face the prospect of deportation.
Lizbeth Mateo, 25, paid full tuition to attend California State University and planned to go on to law school, but because she is undocumented she cannot. She came to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 14.
On the student’s blog, Mateo writes:
I’ve had people tell me that it’s not a big deal, that I should keep on waiting for the DREAM Act to pass. My life has been on pause, rewind or replay for years. Waiting is not an option. Join us.
Mohammad Abdollahi, 24, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, was also arrested. Abdollahi, who immigrated from Iran when he was young, says that because he is gay, he fears persecution if deported.
I have known for a long time that I am undocumented. I have also known, for a long time, that I cannot return to Iran, the country of my birth. There are many reasons for this—the most important of which is because America is my home—but one major reason is because I am gay. In Iran, capital punishment is the penalty for homosexuality.
Yahaira Carrillo, 25, was also arrested and faces possible deportation. She is a student in Missouri.
The three students were joined in their sit-in by Raúl Alcaraz, 27, who is a documented immigrant living in Tucson, and Tania Unzueta, 26, who is from Los Angeles. Unzueta, who is undocumented, left the sit-in before the arrests saying that her case was too weak to avoid deportation.
These students are not alone. In Georgia, Jessica Colotl, a 21-year-old college student was detained after she was stopped for a traffic violation and asked or her papers. She was released on bond from detention yesterday.
The Christian Science Monitor reports:
After being stopped in March for impeding the flow of traffic on her college campus in suburban Atlanta, Ms. Colotl failed to produce a driver’s license. She soon found herself arrested and transferred to an immigration detention center.
A native of Mexico, Colotl reportedly came to the United States with her parents at age 10 and graduated from a Georgia high school. She has been attending Kennesaw State University.
After the arrest, immigration officials released her and granted “deferred action” status, giving her the opportunity to finish college in the coming year before any decision is made about deportation.
A host of advocacy groups rallied around her this week when the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office put out another warrant for her arrest, this time alleging that she had given them a false address. She turned herself in Friday and was later released after posting bond. Her immigration status will be reviewed again based on the new charges.
Colotl, appearing at a press conference after her release said, “I just hope for the best and I hope that something positive comes out of this, because we really need a reform to fix this messed up system.”