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“Dream Act 5” Risk Deportation to Stand up for Education, Fairness in Immigration Debate

by Jacquelyn Mahendra on 05/19/2010 at 6:07pm

Monday evening was intense for those following the young immigrant leaders who have become known as the “#DreamAct5.” As they updated twitter followers live from their sit-in in Senator John McCain’s office, friends and loves ones tweeted messages of support. Their peaceful but powerful action in Tuscon, Arizona, took place on the 65th anniversary of the landmark civil rights case, Brown vs. Board of Education. Still, it was no ordinary civil disobedience. Four of the five students risked deportation upon arrest.

They are undocumented, but they are also unwilling to remain silent as the immigration debate continues to devolve into Arizona-style laws and cynical election-year agendas.

Here is a video posted by students at TheDreamIsComing.com:

The students — Lizbeth Mateo of Los Angeles, California; Tania Unzueta of Chicago, Illinois; Mohammad Abdollahi of Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Yahaira Carrillo of Kansas City, Missouri — were detained by the police and three of the five were put in ICE custody, after refusing to leave the spot on the ground where they were holding court. In a press release, they stated:

With this challenge to local and federal law, these youth hope to highlight the urgency of legislative action in Congress, and catalyze mass grassroots mobilization to pass the DREAM Act before June 15th. These four leaders are risking deportation from the United States in the hope that this action will make a significant contribution to the fight for immigrant rights.

It is clear that the risk involved was great, but that the urgency for just and humane immigration reform, for them, was far greater. According to America’s Voice founder and Executive Director, Frank Sharry:

These young leaders embody the best of the American spirit.  They are fearless in their convictions and heroic in their efforts. Like their fellow Trail of Dreams peers and leaders in Chicago, New York, and other campuses and cities throughout the country, they are taking a stand and risking it all.  Instead of moving to detain and deport these young Americans, Washington should be rushing to honor their courage and grant them citizenship.”

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