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DETAINED in Arizona: Four Student Immigrant Leaders
Peacefully Resist Current Immigration Law, Urge Passage of DREAM Act
As of 6:00 PM PST today, Mohammad, Yahaira, Lizbeth and Raul, an Arizona Resident, have been arrested and detained after their day long sit-in at Senator John McCains Office in Tucson, AZ. Tania, who was not detained, has been designated as spokesperson and will be relating the experiences/thoughts of the group during the action.
Senator John McCain offered the students a meeting in order to discuss the Dream Act, however, the students recognize that this is insufficient and that immediate action is needed to pass the DREAM Act!
Tucson, Arizona. May 17th, on the anniversary of landmark civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education, Arizona law enforcement arrested four undocumented leaders of the immigrant student movement in addition to Arizona native Raul Alcaraz. Lizbeth Mateo of Los Angeles, California; Tania Unzueta of Chicago, Illinois; Mohammad Abdollahi of Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Yahaira Carrillo of Kansas City, Missouri; were detained Tucson, Arizona, after staging a sit-in at Senator John McCainâ€™s office. With this challenge to local and federal law, these youth hope to highlight the urgency of legislative action in Congress, and catalyze mass grassroots mobilization to pass the DREAM Act before June 15th.
These four leaders are risking deportation from the United States in the hope that this action will make a significant contribution to the fight for immigrant rights. In response to the onslaught of enforcement-based immigration law, they staged a sit-in at Senator McCainâ€™s office, and urged congressional leadership to champion the DREAM Act and the values it represents: hard work, education, and fairness.
Lizbeth, 25, an organizer with DREAM Team Los Angeles, states, â€œThere are already ten other states across the country considering immigration legislation similar to Arizonaâ€™s: legislation that is anti-family, anti-democratic, and anti-freedom. Police states and enforcement are quickly becoming the standard, and we are running out of time. We are going to pass the DREAM Act because it is based on freedom and equality.â€
Mohammad, 24, co-founder of DreamActivist.Org, a resource web portal for undocumented students, said in a statement: â€œNever in our history has it been American to deny people their civil rights. We have decided to peacefully resist to encourage our leaders to pass the DREAM Act and create a new standard for immigration reform based on education, hard work, equality, and fairness.â€
At least 65,000 undocumented immigrant youth graduate from high schools every year, and many of them struggle to attend institutes of higher education and the military. The DREAM Act will grant youth who traveled to the United States before the age of 16 a path to citizenship contingent on continuous presence in the country, good behavior, and the attainment of at least a two-year university degree or a two-year commitment to the armed forces.
â€œDuring the civil rights movement, African-American students were arrested for sitting down at lunch counters. Weâ€™ve been detained for standing on a sidewalk. We canâ€™t wait any longer for the DREAM Act to pass,â€ said Tania, 26, co-founder of the Immigrant Youth Justice League, and immigrant rights organizer in Chicago.
All four are leaders in their own communities and have dedicated years to work for immigrant rights, legalization for undocumented immigrants, and the DREAM Act. â€œDr. King spoke of a dream of equality overcoming fear. Well, the fierce urgency of our dreams has overcome any kind of fear we may have had before. We canâ€™t wait,â€ concluded Yahaira, 25, a founder of the Kansas Missouri Dream Alliance.
National Press Conference
Tuesday May 18th
9 AM Pacific, 11 PM Central, Noon EST
In front of Senator John McCainâ€™s office:
407 West Congress Street
Tucson, AZ 85701