[quote]”Hey, what’s going on, Boss?”[/quote]
The cell phone video below shows two young activists going into a Border Patrol office in Mobile, Alabama and basically turning themselves in. Their names are Jonathan Perez and Isaac Barrera. They turned themselves in to the Border Patrol on Nov. 10 in order to test the Obama Administration’s use of prosecutorial discretion in pursuing deportations.
[quote]”What’s it to ya?”
“I’m undocumented too.”[/quote]
“We want to reveal the truth and show [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] for what they really are, as a rogue agency which has no accountability while they separate families,” Perez, a 24-year-old activist from Los Angeles, told Colorlines.com after being detained and sent to the South Louisiana Correctional Center in Basile. Perez and Barrera are interviewing other detainees and collecting other deportation stories from inside .
The action was supported by Dream Activist, a national network of grassroots groups that support passage of the Dream Act and The National Immigrant Youth Alliance. According to the Colorlines story, Perez and Barrera have been issued deportation orders, but an ICE spokesperson told Cololines that the agency has not issued detainers against them. Either way, they are still being detained and activists are trying to pressure the agency to release them before Thanksgiving.
By organizing around specific cases, mostly through online petitions and flooding ICE offices with phone calls, immigrant youth activists have managed to prevent many deportations of low priority, low risk immigrants such as Perez and Barrera—Dream Act eligible youth, people with family ties in the United States or long term residents without criminal records. These are the people that Obama has pledged and ICE has been directed not to deport.
Still, the vast majority of people being deported do not have criminal records: From October 2010 through July 2011, 81.2 percent of people ordered removed from the country had only violated immigration rules—illegal entry, overstaying visas or other administrative violations, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. That is 152,488 people. None of them had committed any other crimes.
Perez and Barrera have not gotten any press aside from the Colorlines report, as far as I can tell. But their action, along with a sit-in at the Alabama Statehouse last week and a rally at the historic 16th Street Baptist Church last night, the same church where four young black girls were killed in 1963 when white supremacists set off a bomb, is a powerful symbolic act in this time of renewed protest spirit in the United States. Risking arrest and, now, deportation, has a long history in this country of successfully demonstrating injustices to the public. The media needs to pay more attention to it.
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