UPDATE 9/18/2011: Earlier in September as a report on the program was released, 5 of the members of the commission resigned, saying that the recommendations in the report were not enough. That includes Arturo Venegas, whose resignation letter you can read here. Although the work still continues, the resignations are a direct result of the opposition and mobilization here in Chicago and accross the country by undocumented youth and our allies. End Secure Communities now!
UPDATE: 9/08/2011, 4:00 PM: The 6 undocumented youth arrested during this action went to court today, where they were facing a “mob action charge.’ At the court they rejected to take a deal from the prosecutor, saying they ‘refused to be labeled as criminals.’ They requested a trial by jury, per constitutional right. Their next court appearance is October 7th downtown, where they will be challenging the charge. As undocumented youth and allies we are against criminalization of undocumented immigrants here in Chicago, North Caronlina, and everywhere else. Still fundraising (thank you!).
UPDATE, 8/18/2011, 3:50 AM: All of the undocumented youth who were part of the action have been released, along with 3 supporters who were also detained by police. We are committed to supporting the undocumented youth in raising fund for their $1,500 bail. Please consider making a donation to support them and our organizing.
Today Chicago responded to the hearing on Secure Communities by walking out of the hearing, and staging a civil disobedience where 6 undocumented youth were arrested. The action and protest took place after over 300 people walked out of the hearing, following a call from IYJL organizer Alaa Mukahhal. She said, “You would not tolerate this for you or your neighbors, why do you expect me to tolerate it for me and mine. I cannot accept the program or this task force.” The youth who were arrested, currently being held by the Chicago Police Department are: IYJL organizers Carla Novoa, Miguel Martinez, Jorge Mena and Ireri Unzueta Carrasco; Arianna Salgado from Nuestra Voz, and Fanny Martinez, from the Latin@ Youth Action League. Please find the youth’s bio and statements below.
Nadia Sol Ireri Unzueta Carrasco
My name is nadia sol ireri unzueta carrasco. I am undocumented and have lived in the U.S. for 17 years. In Chicago I have alway felt safe. Because i get around on my bike. Because, up until 2007, i had never experienced a raid or enforcement action. Because i tend to be able to pass as a citizen. But not everyone that i love can do that. I think about them and I think about me and I think about how we have come to be a family. Celebrating birthdays, summer days and clear moon nights. Sharing frustrations over relationships and restrictions, both physical and mental. I try to live my life as well as i can. Studying even though i’m no longer in school. Traveling and convincing the voice in my head that says ‘danger’ that i’m ready for anything except limiting myself any longer. Creating and implementing workshops because the lack of genuine conversations about immigration, communities, and identities stifles my life. I can’t live in the world i want if everyone around me is in danger of being displaced and deported. I can’t work in the communities i love if they are being destroyed. I won’t let laws disrupt the lives of people who are doing what they need to help their families survive. Instead, i will disrupt those laws and programs. I will disrupt them with peace, with care, with anger, with love. And i am not alone.
My name is Fanny and I am undocumented. I was born in Mexico City and I came to the U.S. nine years ago and I have lived here since then. I am a scholarship graduate student at the University of Chicago. My husband is a U.S. citizen who is returning from Afghanistan later this month. Because of Secure Communities, my family and I have to worry everyday about whether we will be picked up and deported, and my husband has to worry about his wife not being home when he gets back. Since I started attending college my fears increased because I drive to and from school five days a week. Unlike students who have a driver’s license, I have to worry about getting stopped by the police and having my immigration status be reported to ICE. Moreover, as a Latina I know that I’m at higher risk of being arrested since this program has been shown to have connections to racial profiling. I’m afraid because I know that it only takes a day for “Secure Communities” to take away my opportunity to attend graduate school, to separate me from my family, and to destroy my future. I do not want to live in fear anymore because as a human being I deserve to live with dignity. I demand respect and justice for me, my family, and my community.
My name is Arianna Salgado and I am undocumented. I am a youth organizer with Nuestra Voz Youth Council in the Western suburbs. I came to this country when I was 6 years old with my mom and my brother looking for a better future. I graduated this year from the Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy and will be entering college this fall. For the past year and a half I have been working in my community to inform undocumented students of their opportunities for higher education. As a member of PASO (West Suburban Action Project) I have been part of a group that organized Know Your Rights trainings to inform community members about their rights because living in a suburb surrounded by counties that were part of Secure Communities, we were directly feeling the impact of the program. Youth who were driving to school, mothers driving to the store and fathers driving to work have been arrested and put into deportation proceedings. No father, mother, or youth should leave their home and be uncertain of whether they will be back or not.
This became personal for me when my family began to drive around certain areas, trying to evade passing through areas that were under Secure Communities, when they decided against going on vacation to certain places because of fear of getting stopped by the police. My family and the rest of our community should not have to live in fear because of programs like secure communities.
I am taking action today because I cannot sit back as our families continue to be ripped apart and live in fear daily. I am undocumented, unafraid, unapologetic, and determined to continue fighting against the separations of our families.
I moved to the US when I was 8 years old and in third grade. I quickly grew accustomed to life in the U.S. and learned English. Dallas, Texas soon became home, followed by Chicago. I was raised by a single mother and am now 23 and a college graduate. I have been undocumented for most of my life – 15 years. I lived in fear for part of those years until I realized that my undocumented status was not going stop me from achieving my dreams. I had to deal with many limitations while applying for college but that only showed me that I needed to work that much harder for what I want. I’ve realized that my undocumented status is not going to hold me back. Instead, I’m going to take my struggles and fight for my rights until this immigration system is no longer broken. I’m doing this action today because I know that there are undocumented youth out there who need to find hope and know that they are not alone. Illinois does not need secure communities because our families should not have to live in fear of being torn apart. The immigrant community needs to know that they are being protected and not persecuted through secure communities. By taking part in this civil disobedience, I will retreat into my americaness that preaches action at the sight of injustice. My name is Jorge. I’m undocumented and unafraid.
I am Caiden vel, Mexican and 20 years old. I am a son to my mother who brought me here at the age of three and an older brother to my little brother who just turned one. I am a guitarist that loves to make his own sound. My biggest accomplishment that i have so far is that I’m able to keep my head up. No one else will make feel inferior without my consent . I do not fear being undocumented, i don’t think i will ever be. I don’t want a community where everyone is afraid, i don’t want my mom living her life in a cage when she could be a mother. I want her to be able to take my brother to places i always wanted to go when i was a kid and be the mother i always wanted. From my experience I’ve seen all my family work so hard to keep their family together and healthy, I’ve seen to the extend where they abused themselves just to make that extra need of money. Secure community will just make it harder for every undocumented family to live a normal life.
My name is Carla Navoa. I am undocumented and unapologetic. I came to the U.S. from the Philippines when I was five years old with my mother, father, and two sisters. What was planned to be a short trip to Disneyland quickly turned into 17 years of living in America with no legal status, relegated to the shadows of society. Each passing year intensified the shame I held inside; the gnawing fear of friends, teachers, and neighbors finding out about my status and the anxiety about what the future would hold kept me silent for so many years–but not anymore.
I’m currently a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago and an organizer with the Immigrant Youth Justice League. Last year, I moved away from my parents’ home in the suburbs down to Chicago in order to carry out the fight for our lives. On March 10, 2011, I overcame my life-long fear and spoke out at IYJL’s “Coming Out of the Shadows” rally. This past spring, I lead other undocumented youth in the struggle to pass the Illinois DREAM Act.
Today, I take a stand with my undocumented brothers and sisters by refusing to comply with DHS. I will not sit idly by as ICE terrorizes my community, my family, and strips us of our dignity. Secure Communities continues to tear apart families, and I will not simply accept the fear that comes with this broken program. Enough is enough.