IYJL members Adam Kuranishi and Tania Unzueta have been in Arizona for the last week and a half working on this project. Below is the press statement from the group on the release of the students who were detained at the sit in.
Tucson, Arizona — On the night of May 18th the three undocumented youth leaders detained for staging a sit-in at Senator John McCain’s (R-AZ) office in Tucson, Arizona were field released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). They will remain in Arizona supporting local and national organizing for passing the DREAM Act before the end of June.
On May 17th, Mohammad Abdollahi of Michigan, Yahaira Carrillo of Kansas, Tania Unzueta of Chicago, Raul Alcaraz of Arizona, and Lizbeth Mateo of California, staged a sit-in at Senator John McCain’s office, calling on him and congressional leadership to take action and pass the DREAM Act. After 7 and a half hours, Mohammad, Yahaira, Raul, and Lizbeth were arrested by the Tucson Police Department, and they spent the night at the Pima County Jail. Tania Unzueta left the office to speak to reporters, stating that she had been designated the spokesperson for the group.
On May 18th, all four entered not-guilty to trespassing charges and were assigned a June 16th court date. Raul Alcaraz, a lawful permanent resident, was released on the condition that he would appear at the June 16th court date. The other three youth were expecting release but were instead detained and processed by ICE. That same night Mohammad, Yahaira, and Lizbeth were issued a field released supervision by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). They are facing federal charges of trespassing, and will be fighting their deportation proceedings.
“We are relieved to be released from ICE, however our hearts go out to all of the DREAM beneficiaries we made while we were being detained, all of whom were deported because they did not have the same support we did. We ask that leaders within both the Senate and our communities take the same stand we did and push for the DREAM Act to become a reality this year,” said Mohammad. “Senator Stabenow (D-MI), you are one of these leaders, recognize my dream and my friends dreams and co-sponsor the DREAM Act. Enough is enough,” he concluded.
Despite the fact that three of them are facing imminent deportation, Mohammad, Yahaira, Lizbeth, Tania, and Raul remain committed to passing the DREAM Act and establishing it as a standard for reform based on education, hard work, and fairness.
Upon release, Yahaira stated “We decided to own our power and make our voices heard. While we are glad to be out, remember that this action was not and is not about us as individuals. It is imperative for all to continue to push the DREAM Act, to work like we’ve never worked before and make this a reality this summer. We’ve surpassed the days of sitting idly by while others make decisions for us, while others tell us to wait. We cannot wait. Waiting is no longer a option. The DREAM Act must pass and it must pass now.”
The student’s detention sparked the organizing of solidarity vigils, hunger strikes, an civil disobedience actions across the country focused on pushing legislators to step up and take leadership in making the DREAM Act a reality. Upcoming actions are planned nationally.
“We want to thank everyone in Arizona and all over the country, especially the youth, who continue to stand by our side. Passing the DREAM Act is an urgent issue and thousands of young lives and their futures are at stake. Our action is only an example of the kind of sacrifices our movement of undocumented youth is willing to make in order to pass the DREAM Act immediately. We cannot live on hope alone, we need the DREAM Act and we need it now.”
Tania Unzueta, who has been acting as spokesperson for the group concluded, “If our three friends can face the ultimate fear of deportation to show their commitment to passing DREAM, our community and leaders must ask themselves what they are willing to do.”
This action was an independent undocumented youth-led project supported by DreamActivist.Org, DREAM Team LA, Kansas/ Missouri Dream Alliance, the Immigrant Youth Justice League, One Michigan, the Indiana Latino Youth Collective, and New York State Youth Leadership Council. For videos, media and more information visit www.thedreamiscoming.com.