Washington, DC and Phoenix, AZ – Late last night, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided the home of Arizona DREAM leader Erika Andiola and detained her mother, Maria Arreola, and her brother, Heriberto Andiola Arreola. After immediate mobilization by the family’s supporters, and DREAMers and supporters from across the country, Heriberto and Maria were released from detention today. But, the family is far from secure. What is next for them? Why were they targeted? And how many other families who don’t have the same network of support are still locked up in detention, awaiting deportation?
On a press call today, Erika shared her terrifying story of the ICE raid of her home; its agents’ arrest of her mother and brother; the misinformation ICE agents gave her about the case; and her brother’s discovery that ICE agents were tracking Erika and her activism. Listen to the recording here.
“Not only did ICE have profiles of my mother and brother, but also of me,” Erika said. “They told my brother, ‘We know all about your sister, we know about what your sister does, and you should get away from that.’ For years I have spoken to the media about other cases and come to this ICE office on behalf of other families. But this is the first time I have been here for my own mother. And while it makes me extremely happy to know that she is here, the experience of having been separated from her and my brother has been something I will never get over or forget.”
“Furthermore, it makes me extremely sad that it took all day and thousands of calls to stop the deportation of one person. We shouldn’t have to do that. We shouldn’t have to put in all our effort just to protect one family when this happens every day all around the country. I am asking President Obama and his Administration to stop separating families.”
Erika and her mother have appeared on national television and Erika has worked with senior Obama administration officials and members of congress. She is a former board member of the United We Dream Network and founder of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition. Erika has also worked for Presente.org and currently serves as the co-founder and political director of the DRM Capitol Group. Over a month ago, her mother was stopped while driving and asked for her “papers” in an early example of how Arizona’s SB 1070 law is targeting immigrants who have committed no crimes.
This latest action by ICE has left DREAMers and their family members angered and mobilized.
Cristina Jimenez, Managing Director of United We Dream, reacted to the news by saying, “Erika is a longtime leader in the DREAM and immigrant rights movement; she has fought tirelessly for a better nation that affirms our values and opportunity in this country. This action by ICE has shocked DREAMers all across the country. Advocates from coast to coast are expressing outrage and denouncing the detention of Erika’s mother and calling for an end to all family separations.”
The experience of the Arreola/Andiola family puts a devastating human story behind the Obama Administration’s record breaking deportation statistics and shows that despite the promise of “prosecutorial discretion,” ICE agents are still terrorizing ordinary families with impunity. The need for legislative reform from Congress—and the immediate real follow-through on administrative reforms promised by the President—is painfully clear. The same President who was forced to stop deporting DREAMers must stop deporting our families too.
Speakers on today’s call additionally called on the Administration to take bold action to protect Erika and her family as well as the millions of other DREAMers and their families from situations just like this.
According to Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center, “Not all immigrant families have the benefit of Erika to mobilize the whole country over night. The Andiola family is just another example of the cost of the broken system that continues to hurt millions of immigrants across the country. We cannot keep fixing this one worker, one family member at a time. While we wait for immigration reform, the President can act now so that millions of immigrants do not have to live in constant fear of deportation.”
Added Jimenez, “We won’t stop pressuring the President and members of Congress to work on a solution that provides a pathway to citizenship for our community, for DREAMers and for our families. We won’t stop until we get that done in 2013.”
This is just the latest case of a government agency out of control, which continues to target hardworking members of the community. Despite the President’s commitments made to the Latino and immigrant community, senior officials from the White House continue to defend his record breaking number of deportations and agents in the field continue to terrorize families to meet their quotas.
“This is not an isolated incident; this happens every day. We salute the amazing work of DREAMers and allies who mobilized in this case, but enforcement actions like this happen outside the spotlight every day. This is what 400,000 deportations look like,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund. “The President says repeatedly that DHS’ priorities are to go after the ‘worst of the worst.’ But despite existing prosecutorial discretion policy, officers on the ground seem much more focused on filling the annual deportation quota than in following the President’s priorities. With real immigration reform on tap this year, it’s ridiculous to think we’re spending billions of dollars arresting people who will be on the road to citizenship once Congress enacts reform.”
United We Dream is the first and largest immigrant youth-led network in the nation with 52 affiliate organizations in 25 states that organize and advocate for a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million undocumented Americans; fair treatment under the law for all, including access to higher education, health care, and safe, fair working conditions; and an end to senseless deportations and abuses.