Undocumented Students Arrested at Protest at McCain’s Office
KGUN: Illegal immigrant who takes part in sit-in at Senator McCain’s office speaks out Reported By: Steve Nunez
TUCSON, AZ (KGUN-TV) – Today a number of people from around the country, most illegal immigrants, converged in what could be a costly demonstration for the DREAM Act. The “Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors” is a bipartisan piece of legislation sponsored by Republican Senator Orin Hatch of Utah and Democratic Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois.
The DREAM Act aims to give people brought here illegally at a young age a conditional path to citizenship. It would give them 6 years to complete either a college degree or two years of military service. It is legislation now opposed by Arizona Senator’s Jon Kyl and John McCain.
The five activists, four who are illegal immigrants, took a stand by sitting down inside McCain’s Tucson office. Just before 6p.m. One of the illegal immigrants, Tania Unzueta, voluntarily walked out to speak for all who share her same story.
Unzueta told Nine On Your Side’s Steve Nunez her parents brought her to the U.S. illegally when she was 10 years-old. Today, she’s 26. Nunez asked, “Why would you do this if you’re undocumented knowing the risks of possibly getting arrested and possible deportation?” Unzueta responded, “Precisely because we feel that undocumented people need to be at the forefront of our movement think we are tired of not speaking for ourselves and not being able to tell our story.”
The activists chose McCain’s office because the Arizona Senator previously supported the legislation that allows undocumented immigrants between the ages of 12-35 a chance to be citizens by doing something to benefit the nation. Unzueta says she earned her sociology degree from the University of Chicago.
Nunez then asked her, “What was it like inside?” Unzueta said, “Actually people were very nice to us. We got to talk a little bit about our stories and what we bring here.” Nunez followed with another question and asked, “Do you think you accomplished anything by sitting-in?” Unzueta responded, “You know I think it’s not just about what happened inside today but the way the immigrants right movement should respond around the country so I hope that we did.”
Shortly after 6p.m. Tucson Police arrested the other four activists for trespassing because they refused to leave voluntarily after McCain’s office closed for the day. Nunez asked Unzueta, “What do you say to those who say you know what you’re undocumented you should be deported?” Unzueta said, “This is my country. This is where I’ve grown up. This is where I’ve learned everything. How to write, how to love, how to be with my community. I feel like where you’re from isn’t always where you’re born it’s the country you learn to love and this is the country that I love.”
Nunez then followed up by asking Unzueta, “Why is it fair that you get to stay in this country as an undocumented?” Unzueta said, “I think it’s a matter of valuing people’s hard work and education.”
This is the first time illegal immigrants, who have spent most of their lives living in this country, are making their voices heard in the immigration debate.
Nine On Your Side asked police why police did not detain Unzueta. Tucson Police tell us they did not question the activists for their immigration status until they began to arrest them. And that’s when they informed ICE or Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Undocumented youth protest garners local, national attention
Undocumented youth protest garners local, national attention
By Todd A. Heywood 5/18/10 12:36 AM The protest and arrest of a group of three undocumented youth and one permanent citizen at the offices of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has garnered local and national attention.
The students — dressed in graduation cap and gowns — were protesting to demand swift action on the DREAM Act, a piece of legislation pending in the U.S. Senate, which they say would create a path to citizenship. The act would require undocumented youth who are in the country to receive temporary residency status, then within six years complete at least two years of higher education or military service.
Among the youth was Mohammad Abdollahi, a 24-year-old gay man from Iran who lives in Ann Arbor. Abdollahi came to the U.S. when he was three-years-old. He was one of four youth arrested Monday night by Tucson Police.
Steve Ralls, communications director of Immigration Equality, put up a blog on the Huffington Post praising Abdollahi’s actions. Immigration Equality is a nonprofit based in Washington D.C. which is fighting for immigration reform for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. In the post, Ralls writes:
Simply put: Abdollahi, if arrested, will likely be deported to a country where gays and lesbians are put to death.
That is why the DREAM Act – which was recently included in a Senate immigration outline for comprehensive immigration reform – is so important to so many immigrants, both gay and straight. It is, quite literally, the difference between building a future in the United States or spending the future in a place where they must fear for their lives.
Meanwhile, KOLD was on the scene when the activists were loaded into the Tucson Police arrest van. Video can be seen here.
The protests were also reported by the New York Times, The Arizona Daily Star, The Phoenix New Times, and AnnArbor.com.
While the activists were sitting in McCain’s office, protesters gathered outside. They were met with some resistance, and confusion. Activist David Abie Morales has video on his Facebook page showing that activists were told the building in which McCain’s office was located was both privately owned and U.S. Government property.
Activists in Michigan are planning vigils in Detroit and Lansing Tuesday night. They will also hold a press conference Tuesday afternoon at a church near the state capitol.
Posted on May 18, 2010, in Anti-Police, Immigrant Struggles and tagged North America - The United States. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Undocumented Students Arrested at Protest at McCain’s Office.