Undocumented immigrants are hitting the road, openly declaring their immigration status and calling for an end to anti-immigrant attacks—and they’re starting in the Arizona, home to anti-immigrant state law SB 1070.
This weekend Miguel Guerra, Natally Cruz, Leticia Ramirez and Isela Meraz begin their trip across the U.S. and end in Charlotte, North Carolina, just in time for the Democratic National Convention in September. All four activists are members of Puente, a Phoenix, Arizona-based human rights organization, and will be joined by dozens of others on the tour. They’re calling it the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice.
“I’m getting on the bus because I’m tired of living in fear and knew I had to be part of making a change,” Ramirez said in a statement. “We’ll share with everyone what we’ve learned in Phoenix and get the immigrant community together across the country. If you see what happened to us knowing our rights, going in, and getting out of jail you can see that we’re safer when we’re organized. We hope that it will be a good impact and to educate people who don’t know our real lives.”
Ramirez and the three activists were released from jail earlier this week after declaring their status and taking over an intersection in Phoenix, Arizona outside Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s civil trial. Ramirez, Cruz, Meraz and Guerra were arrested. Guerra was placed into deportation proceedings. Because they are undocumented, such civil disobedience actions come with the risk of possible deportation.
They say that they don’t want to be cowed by fear any longer, and that their six-week tour across the U.S. will be their effort to encourage other undocumented immigrants to let go of their fear. “I was part of our civil disobedience because I want to open the eyes of my community and I want all of us to have the same courage I found to come out of the shadows and stop living in fear,” Ramirez said.