Eight undocumented youth from around the country have moved to shut down a major thoroughfare in Atlanta, Ga., to protest state laws that ban enrollment in public universities by undocumented youth.
“We feel that the time for us to stand up has come. I am not only doing this for my friends who are in the same situation, but also for my mom who did everything she could to give me a better life,” said Dayanna Rebolledo, 21, one of the undocumented youth who was brought here from Mexico at the age of 9 and was raised in Detroit, Mich. She is a leader of the Detroit-based organization One Michigan for Immigrant Rights.
“I feel scared not knowing what might happen to me today, but I also know that if I do not take action then my future will remain uncertain for much longer,” Rebolledo said.
If the eight protesters are arrested they will likely face detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and then deportation proceedings, as happened in a protest last year at Arizona Sen. John McCain’s Tucson offices. After they were arraigned on charges of trespassing in Arizona, ICE officials promptly arrested them and began deportation proceedings.
Since last spring, undocumented youth have been staging a variety of civil disobedience actions across the country in a drive to force Congress and the president to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
One significant goal of activists is passage of the DREAM Act. The Act would create a path to citizenship for youth brought to the country illegally at a young age, requiring that they serve two years in the U.S. military, or enroll for two years in a university or college. Once the two-year requirement is completed, the youth would then be allowed to pursue full citizenship as any other immigrant to the U.S. would.
“We intend to hold our politicians at the national level accountable to the promises they make,” said Jose Franco, One Michigan lead organizer from Detroit. “Our situation demands a clear, practical solution. We won’t wait for political opportunity — we will create political opportunity. This is just the beginning.”
“Young people have always been at the forefront of the civil rights movement,” said Rebolledo, “and we intend to continue in that tradition by fighting for a path to legalization and access to education for all.”
To watch the protest live check out the One Michigan live stream.