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This Latina College Student Was Too Afraid To Renew Her DACA Status And It Cost Her A Position In Student Government

Ana Ramirez / Facebook

Ana Ramirez is preparing to be a sophomore at Western Washington University. The 19-year-old recently ran for the position of Vice President for Governmental Affairs for the Associated Student Board of Director. The good news: Ramirez won and was elected to the position. The bad news: University officials pulled her from the position because she is undocumented and not a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient. Mitú spoke with Ramirez about what happened.

Ana Ramirez was ready to assume her position as Vice President for Governmental Affairs of Associated Students at Western Washington University.

CREDIT: Ana Ramirez / Facebook

“The position that I was elected to do is like a liaison between administration, the state legislature, the federal government, and the Associated students of Western Washington University,” Ramirez told mitú. “Part of my duties include chairing the legislative affairs counsel, which is a committee that creates the lobby day agendas. My position does all the work on the Western lobby day when we go down to Olympia to lobby. I’d oversee an office called the Representation and Engagement Program that puts on a voter registration drive, which is the largest of all of the colleges in Washington.”

But before she could take on her position, she was told that she might not be able to participate under federal law.

The AS Board Inauguration was a nice way to wrap up the year, as it was the last thing I needed to do before I could pack up and leave Bellingham for a bit. This year has been so long and wild and I never would have imagined I would be in the position that I am now when I first came to Western back in September. This year has been so draining and I'm so tired and I feel so dead and I almost dropped out and I thought about transferring so so so many times, but I'm still here and I'm doing good things and somehow I'm still alive and I owe that to all my lovely friends because I know that at the end of the day I will be okay because I have them ?? Also Larry came to the inauguration and I almost started crying LOL I love Larry ??

A post shared by Ana Ramirez™ (@ana.abigail.ramirez) on

“After careful research and significant review of both creative alternatives and the existing law regarding the possible means by which we can legally compensate our undocumented students who have not received DACA, we have not found a viable option that would allow for payment or even a way to allow for a student to engage in volunteer service when the work involved would otherwise be considered paid work,” Paul Cocke, the director of Office of Communications and Marketing for Western Washington University, told mitú via email. “As much as the University values undocumented students and has a deep commitment to inclusion, we cannot put individual students or the University at risk of violating federal or state law.”

According to both Ramirez and the university spokesperson, the point of contention in Ramirez serving on the Associated Students Board of Directors is her immigration status and lack of DACA, which is currently under review.

CREDIT: Stephanie Cheng / Facebook

“A lot of the reason why I waited [to file for DACA] was because of safety concerns and worrying that the program would end,” Ramirez admitted to mitú. “If I paid $495 and then President Trump cancels this program then I lose all of this money. I need that money. Under President Obama, no DACA recipients were ever detained but now, under President Trump, DACA recipients started being detained. That’s really scary to see and I would be putting out all of my information to people that don’t even want me in this country and they could just find me and take me if they really wanted to.”

Volunteering for the position is also off the table, according to Cocke, because the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services deems that as work.

CREDIT: Ana Ramirez / Facebook

“In addition, federal law indicates undocumented individuals cannot hold a position that would normally include compensation such as an Associated Students elected position that is eligible for compensation,” Cocke told mitú. “Unfortunately, as for temporarily volunteering for an elected position, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) views such volunteering as ‘work,’ even if short in duration, and it requires proper employment authorization issued by that agency.”

But Ramirez says that something should be done to help undocumented students who, unlike her, do not have DACA as an option.

just want y'all to know marching in high heels isn't as easy as I make it look ??#getonmylevel #committedtothecause

A post shared by Ana Ramirez™ (@ana.abigail.ramirez) on

“I am qualified for this position and the only thing holding me back is that I don’t have DACA right now,” Ramirez told mitú. “There are a lot of students that don’t qualify for DACA and they also deserve a chance to be on Associated Students or on the student government because DACA is an option for me but that’s not always going to be the case.”

While university officials acknowledge Ramirez’s talent and qualifications to hold the positions, Cocke told mitú that their hands are tied by federal and state law.

“The University values and seeks to encourage strong student leaders,” Cocke told mitú. “Despite Ana Ramirez’ clear talent and leadership, the University is obligated to separate the individual talent and contributions from legal requirements as the law makes no exceptions based on those personal characteristics.”

As for why she is publicly fighting this fight, Ramirez credits her own desire to overcome her fear.

CREDIT: Ana Ramirez / Facebook

“One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Nos quitaron tanto que nos quitaron el miedo.’ (They’ve taken away so much that they’ve taken away our fear.),” Ramirez told mitú. “We have to lose our fears.”

READ: This Top Latina Athlete Is Refusing To Run For Her College Until It Fixes Its Racism Problem

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An Undocumented Mother Of 3 Is Facing Deportation Back To Mexico For A Misdemeanor Committed 7 Years Ago

Things That Matter

An Undocumented Mother Of 3 Is Facing Deportation Back To Mexico For A Misdemeanor Committed 7 Years Ago

American Friends Service Committee / Facebook

Cristina’s Statement to ICE

WATCH, SHARE, SIGN: Cristina read this message to ICE just before going to her check in. She was then detained. Please take the time to sign and share her petition at #CristinaBelongsHere #Not1More

Posted by American Friends Service Committee on Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Cristina Rodriguez is facing deportation for a misdemeanor committed 7 years ago while trying to leave an abusive partner.

In a story that is becoming all too familiar, a mother of three is facing deportation for an old crime that, according to her attorney, James Lamb, is one of the lowest level misdemeanors in the state of Colorado. James Lamb, a senior associate at Chan Law Firm in Denver, Colo., spoke with mitú about the deportation of Rodriguez. Cristina Rodriguez’s problems started in 2010 when she tried getting away from an abusive partner.

Rodriguez called the police on her abusive partner and told the police that she was holding their infant son when he struck her. When the police arrived, they discovered that while Rodriguez’s partner was abusive, Rodriguez was not truthful in telling the police that she was holding the infant when he struck her. This falsehood led the police to arrest Rodriguez for lying to the police. The child was taken to the emergency room by police, where evidence of previous sustained physical abuse was found. Rodriguez’s partner was convicted of felony child abuse. Rodriguez had no knowledge of the child’s abuse until she called the police and the proof was discovered by the doctors, according to Lamb.

“I don’t think it would be fair to categorize her as a negligent mother or anything like that. Certainly, since that case, which concluded in 2010, she has not had any other criminal encounters at all,” Lamb told mitú. “So, that got the ball rolling on immigration proceedings. There was prior counsel on that case and Cristina eventually ended up taking voluntary departure. It’s not necessarily the case strategy I would have chosen, for a number of reasons but that’s what happened.”

Rodriguez was detained after going to a scheduled check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a technique of detention that is being called a “silent raid.” A “silent raid,” according to America’s Voice, is defined as the practice of immigrants going to ICE office for routine check-ins and being detained and deported.

In Rodriguez’s case, she went in for her check-in on Wednesday, June 21 and is expected to be deported today, Friday, June 23. The quick turn around for her deportation is because of her nationality. As Lamb explained to mitú, when it comes to deporting people, there is usually a schedule set up by the ICE office in the area. For Colorado, Mexican nationals are deported Friday mornings.

“We’re dealing with something that’s more machine that human. So, they have a day when they tend to send out Mexican nationals and in the Denver area, that just happens to be Friday morning,” Lamb told mitú. “That doesn’t mean you’re going to be deported that day, just means that you’re probably going to be moved probably to Arizona or New Mexico to a staging facility and held there until they get around to finally taking you across the border.”

Lamb told mitú that it is likely that ICE won’t hold Rodriguez long since publicity is building around the case.

Since her detention, #CristinaBelongsHere is being used by those who have learned about the case to bring more visibility to Rodriguez’ situation. Rodriguez was brought to the U.S. when she was just 5 years old by her parents and has very few memories of Mexico, according to Rodriguez’ recorded statement. The statement was recorded just before Rodriguez went for her check-in with ICE.

“It’s very sad that this country, being so powerful and full of opportunity, can’t fix the immigration system,” Rodriguez said in her recorded statement. “Thousands of families are being separated daily and they don’t understand that it tears not only the families but everything we’ve accomplished.”

Lamb confirmed to mitú that ICE has denied Rodriguez’ stay of removal and a recent press release confirms that she has been moved to a facility in Arizona.

READ: Colorado Man Who Spent Months In A Church To Avoid Deportation Is Detained By ICE

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