*Update: Yadira, Alejandra, Maria, & Francisco have been released
Phoenix, AZ– Today, leaders from the United We Dream affiliate Arizona Dream Act Coalition, including DREAMers and undocumented mothers, engaged in unprecedented civil disobedience and escalated action to shut down operations at Phoenix Removal and Detention Facility, the ICE facility in downtown Phoenix. Today’s action shone a spotlight on ongoing detentions and deportations and the urgent need for the Obama administration to stop separating our families and Congress to deliver real immigration reform.
Over one hundred people encircled the ICE facility to shut down operations and ongoing deportations, with several leaders being arrested for civil disobedience. Those arrested included undocumented youth activists in Arizona, Yadira Garcia and Francisco Luna, who are 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 four 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.
The livestream of the event can be accessed here and photos are available Teresa Martinez and Ardany Rosales Lemus—who’ve been torn away from their families by our broken immigration system and the Obama administration’s out-of-control deportation policy.
“It is a shame that this country would make its own children suffer by breaking families apart on a daily basis,” said Teresa Martinez, mother of two DREAMers and two U.S. citizens who is currently in deportation proceedings. “It is time for this country to start living up to its family values.”
Leaders 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.
“Just last weekend, ICE raided car wash locations all over the Phoenix areas, ensnaring hardworking men and women who came to this country for a better future for their families and a shot at the American dream,” said Dulce Matuz, president of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, an affiliate of United We Dream. “This out-of-control enforcement, which harms our families and communities, only serves to highlight the moral crisis our nation faces: it’s time for Congress to pass immigration reform with access to a path to citizenship, providing us with the security of knowing our loved ones can’t be torn away from us and the chance to fully contribute to this nation.”
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.”
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.