Things That Matter

Seven DREAMers Are At Risk For Deportation After Being Arrested And Are Refusing To Hand Over Their Names And Fingerprints

Seven DREAMers and an ally were arrested in Washington, D.C., on Friday after participating in a sit-in advocating for a clean DREAM Act. The activists are currently being held in police custody and have initiated a hunger strike they say will remain active until Democrats make space for a clean DREAM Act in the congressional spending budget.

The demonstration puts these activists in a race against a narrowing deadline.

The seven activists, who call themselves the #Dream7, were arrested at the D.C. offices of New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer and Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo. They were charged for occupying the building outside regular business hours, which is regarded as unlawful entry. The group had initiated a sit-in and demanded that the lawmakers pass a clean DREAM Act by the federal spending budget deadline of December 22nd.

Since their Friday arrest, the group has refused to provide their names and fingerprints.

They’ve withheld personal information from law enforcement in an effort to remain in jail and continue their protests until their demands (and the demands of thousands of others) have been met. The participating DREAMers have all put their status in this country on the line, and are now at risk of being detained and deported. In one video taken just before their arrest, one of the participants, named Belén Sisa, told viewers that every day they spend in jail puts them closer to an arrest by ICE and deportation.

Anticipating their arrest, the protesters prepared statements concerning the goals of their demonstration.

Cata is a 20-year-old immigrant living in Florida.

CREDIT: Fightforourdream.org

In her written statement, published on Fightforourdream.org, she explains the pains that she has been through after losing her DACA eligibility.

“I have to take matters into my own hands,” Cata wrote. “I lost DACA, I lost a portion of my childhood with my parents, I lost the burial of numerous loved ones, I am not willing to lose the resiliency that runs through my veins. As a community, we cannot be spectators of the attacks against us. We must take bold action and show up for each other,”

Belén Sisa is an Argentine activist living in Arizona.

CREDIT: Fightforourdream.org

Sisa, a student at Arizona State University, wrote that she took part in this sit-in to give voice to the undocumented and “for those whose future is in the midst of uncertainty.” “If I and seven others can risk it all for something much bigger than ourselves, so can our political leaders who say they support us.”

Barbara is a 25 year old teacher living in California.

CREDIT: Fightforourdream.org

“Before there was DACA I always wanted to work a nice job and have the opportunity to shine using my skills,” Barbara wrote. “Once I had DACA I was able to show my skills off and pay taxes and get holidays and weekends to spend with my family, the feeling was amazing.”

Erika Andiola is from Durango, Mexico, and came to the U.S. to flee from domestic violence.

CREDIT: Fightforourdream.org

Andiola, an activist and former aid to the Bernie Sanders 2016 election campaign, Erika called those at risk to exercise their “collective power.”

“I am risking arrest today because there are thousands of people who are losing hope, who feel attacked and this is the time for us to model courage and to stand together because that was the only way we were able to win DACA in the first place,” Erika writes in her statement.

Hector is a 26-year-old student at City University of New York from Colombia.

CREDIT: Fightforourdream.org

Having been activated into political action earlier this year after seeing the many protests that were sparked after the DACA repeal, Hector wrote about fighting for respect and protection for undocumented youth.

“Let’s uplift each other and create a democracy that values all that live in it,” he wrote.

In September, Donald Trump rescinded DACA, which simultaneously sealed off new applications for the program. The rescission also put renewal applicants whose permits were set to expire between Sept. 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 under a six-month tight time crunch. #Dream7 has remained firm in their decision to stay on a hunger strike until Democrats include the clean DREAM Act in their budget.

The names of the DREAMers used in this story were initially provided by their social accounts and Fightforourdream.org. The full names of the other activists have yet to be formally released. At the time of this story’s publication, mitú reached out to representatives of #Dream7 but has yet to hear back. 


Read: Here’s How One Houston Panadería Was Saved Because Of A Teenager’s Tweet

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Activists Are Warning That The Guard Running His Truck Through Protesters Is Not Going To Be The Last

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Activists Are Warning That The Guard Running His Truck Through Protesters Is Not Going To Be The Last

People across the U.S. are stunned by a viral Twitter video showing a contract Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) guard driving his pick-up truck through a crowd of protesters. The protesters, part of the Jewish activist organization Never Again Action, posted videos of the assault on Twitter and it has sparked outrage at the actions of law enforcement at the scene. Here’s what happened.

Captain Thomas Woodworth has been placed on administrative leave following the incident, according to authorities.

Credit: @theplaceilove / Twitter

“The incident which occurred last night is currently being investigated by the Rhode Island State Police,” a statement to the Boston Globe read. “Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility Warden Daniel Martin is also conducting a top to bottom review of the incident, Wyatt correctional officers’ response, and the Wyatt’s protocols regarding protest activities outside of the facility. Captain Thomas Woodworth has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of the independent investigation being conducted by the Rhode Island State Police, and the Wyatt’s internal investigation.”

People are spreading his information as far and wide as they can to shame him for his actions.

Credit: @AntiFlashGordon / Twitter

The video has been shared all over social media and people have reacted with shock and anger. Other activists are pointing out that the use of a car to ram protesters is becoming a more common thought and occurrence than in recent history.

Others are using the video as a moment to question what exactly is happening inside the detention centers they are protesting.

Credit: @nat_lern / Twitter

People have been trying to get people’s attention to the humanitarian crisis in the detention centers. There is a real concern that if guards can run their car through a group of lawful protesters, what are they doing to migrants in detention?

Activists captured video of an ICE guard using his pick-up truck to break through a group of protesters in Rhode Island.

Credit: @NeverAgainActn / Twitter

Protesters were stationed outside of the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Rhode Island. During the protest, a pick-up truck drives up the protesters and honks the horn before driving through the crowd of protesters. However, the truck was not the only time the protesters were assaulted during the protest.

During the incident, law enforcement at the scene used pepper spray on the protesters to break up the crowd.

Credit: @NeverAgainActn / Twitter

“We will not be deterred by the violence that was taken against us last night,” a spokesperson for Never Again Action told NBC News. “People are being harmed in ICE custody every day. This is exactly why we are doing what we’re doing.”

People are horrified at the blatant attack on peaceful protesters.

Credit: @mcastimovies / Twitter

The video is a chilling reminder of the violence we have seen against protesters in recent times. Two years ago, the world watched in shock as a white supremacist ran his car into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia during the Unite the Right rally. The attack claimed one life, Heather Heyer, in the name of hate. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured during the incident on Wednesday night.

Five people were hospitalized after the guard ran over protesters.

Two people were hospitalized because of the truck driving into the crowd and three people were hospitalized for the pepper spray. The whole incident has not deterred the organization from standing against ICE and its detention practices.

READ: More Than 100 Protesters Were Arrested In New York City For Blocking One Of The Busiest Streets In The City

An Ex-ICE Attorney Is Calling Out The Agency For Using False Evidence To Deport And Detain Innocent Migrants

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An Ex-ICE Attorney Is Calling Out The Agency For Using False Evidence To Deport And Detain Innocent Migrants

A former Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) lawyer has revealed that in several cases ICE agents corroborated against immigrants in order to achieve their deportation. In an in-depth interview with ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates those on power, Laura Peña revealed many of the behind the scenes details of the how the government agency pursued the deportation of migrants and asylum seekers. The investigative piece highlights some of the trials and tribulations that Peña has lived through as a legal assistant to the agency where, in different cases, there was a common factor: lack of evidence to accuse immigrants of any fault that prompts their deportation.

Now she’s getting to tell her side of the story. 

Who is Laura Peña and how did she end up working for ICE?

Credit: @ProPublica / Twitter

Growing up in Harlingen, Texas, which is close to Mexico, Peña was immersed in the migrant community. Living so close to the U.S-Mexico border gave her a unique perspective on what many Latino migrants endured. She went to school with friends who were undocumented and friends whose parents also worked for the Border Patrol. After graduating high school she left the area and would get a job in the State Department. 

She would eventually take her career path in the same footsteps as her father to become a lawyer. After graduating from Georgetown Law, she saw that ICE was looking for trial attorneys but the opportunity wasn’t as easy as it seemed. Peña wasn’t sold on the concept of helping see migrants get deported, especially growing up in a migrant community herself. Family and friends were in disagreement with the thought of her working on behalf of ICE. 

 But her father, who himself was a struggling attorney, consoled her and reassured her not to pass up an opportunity like this. “Do what you need to do,” he counseled her. “Don’t worry about what others think.”

 A fellow mentor, who was also an immigration attorney, also encouraged her to take the position. He said this could be an opportunity to take the job and try to make the government agency more humane. “We need people of your mindset working on the government’s side,” she told Peña.

Peña was hired in 2014 as an ICE attorney which would be the start of a turbulent and controversial time working on behalf of the agency. These are some of the stories she told ProPublica about her experiences. 

Credit: @HispanicCaucus / Twitter

One of the mentioned cases in the investigative piece was that of Carlos, a migrant who applied for political asylum. As soon as he made his request, border and immigration agents accused him of being a member of the notoriously famous MS-13 gang in El Salvador, so this made Carlos not eligible to enter to the United States. 

This is where Peña, who followed the case, started to see the ugly true side of ICE. She did not find any semblance of a connection between Carlos and the gang, not even tattoos, that are a key part of the gang’s look or even criminal record in his own country. To the contrary, Carlos even carried an official letter from the Ministry of Justice of El Salvador certifying and clearing him of ever setting foot in a jail cell. Peña demanded proof from immigration agents that he was connected to the gang but did not obtain any. Despite the lack of any evidence of his gang affiliation, Carlos did not obtain his asylum.

Another case she revealed was that of a 6-month-old baby who was scheduled to be deported because he had been separated from his mother. Peña would eventually reunite the child with his mother but the woman was accused of carrying a false document. The immigration judge used that against her and would then order her child’s removal from the country.

This would all lead to Peña taking a step back from the agency. She now works pro bono with clients seeking asylum at the border. 

Credit: @bykenarmstrong / Twitter

All of this immigration work would overwhelm Peña over time, especially during the Trump administration’s family separation policy went into effect in Spring 2018. “Everything was stacked against the immigrants. Most couldn’t afford to hire an attorney. Few would ever win their cases.”

Peña would go on to acknowledge that the immigration system refuses to provide due process to an immigrant. but also realizes that there’s not much that could be done there. She is now working pro bono as a visiting attorney for the Texas Civil Rights Project, helping migrants with asylum cases. She now hopes she can properly bring justice to the countless of people that have been wrongly deported or separated at the hands of ICE. 

READ: This New Border Wall Mural Features QR Codes That You Can Scan To Hear Emotional Stories Of Deported Migrants

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