Late last night, leaders from United We Dream and the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, an affiliate of United We Dream, engaged in unprecedented civil disobedience and escalated action to stop a bus in the middle of deportation proceedings at the Phoenix Removal and Detention Facility, the ICE post in downtown Phoenix. Six heroic DREAMers sat in front of the bus for more than two hours, before the bus finally retreated back into the ICE complex.
Last night’s action shone a spotlight on ongoing detentions and deportations and the urgent need for the Obama administration to stop separating our families and for Congress to deliver real immigration reform.
Over one hundred people encircled the ICE facility until well after midnight to shut down operations and ongoing deportations, before local police arrested two leaders. Those arrested included undocumented youth activist in Arizona, Jose Patino and Ray Jose, a United We Dream leader and recent DACA recipient from Maryland. After being flooded with phone calls demanding the release of the two DREAMers, authorities released both Jose and Patino..
“I am doing this because I am so fed up with people playing games with our lives,” said Ray Jose. “My mom and my dad are getting tired. My dad cannot do physical labor any more. It is for the sake of my family, who sacrificed so much for me, that I am ready to do this.”
Last night’s action was the climax of a week of action from Arizona Dream Act Coalition and United We Dream, including sustained presence outside the ICE facility, including civil disobedience, prayer vigils, press conferences, and Jericho Marches to protest the massive raids in Arizona on Saturday and to share the stories of families that are being separated everyday and the moral crisis in our communities. The escalation constitutes the next phase of UWD’s campaign for immigration reform, ramping up pressure on Congress by calling attention to the inhumane separation of families happening every day.
“I did this for my mother, because she works more than anyone in my family, and for my family, because they deserve a chance to fulfil their dreams,” said Arizona leader Jose Patino.
This action came only hours after four other heroic DREAM leaders were arrested for chaining themselves to a fence of the ICE complex, shutting down ICE operations. Those arrested were Yadira Garcia and Francisco Luna, who are DREAMer leaders with ADAC and UWD, as well as UWD National Coordinating Committee member Maria Castro and Alejandra Sanchez, a mother of both a U.S. citizen and DREAMers. For the first time, parents of DREAMers are coming forward to lead groundbreaking escalations and apply political pressure to Members of Congress alongside their children, immigrant youth activists.
These actions in Arizona are also targeting Congressman Matt Salmon (R-AZ) and Congressman Ed Pastor (D-AZ) to urge them to help deliver immigration reform that halts aggressive, senseless enforcement practices, unites families, and creates a clear path to citizenship for Americans without papers. UWD is calling on Congress to act now on immigration reform, as well as challenging the Obama administration to immediately cease deportations and the separation of our families as Congress debates immigration reform..
As some in Congress suggest backwards measures like the so-called SAFE Act, and with Speaker Boehner coming out in support of this legislation yesterday, DREAMers will not let up pressure on elected officials. Bills like the SAFE Act would only lead to the “Arizonification” of the entire nation, implementing “show me your papers” policies nationwide and ramping up our already excessive enforcement system to criminalize all undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
“We cannot accept any legislative proposal that would amplify the pain our communities have been subjected to for decades while blocking our families from a path to citizenship,” said Cristina Jimenez, Managing Director of United We Dream. “Terrorizing our communities or creating a permanent underclass is un-American and unacceptable.”
The Arizona Dream Act Coalition is the largest immigrant youth led organization in the state of Arizona. Our mission is to have a nation full of educated and integrated immigrant youth. We are an affiliate of the United We Dream Network.
United We Dream is the first and largest immigrant youth-led network in the nation with 51 affiliate organizations in 25 states that organize and advocate for the dignity and fair treatment of immigrant youth and families, regardless of immigration status. UWD’s current priority is to win citizenship for the entire undocumented community and end senseless abuses and deportations.