Undocumented immigrant students right here in Montgomery County, MD and elsewhere in the nation, have figured out a new way to fight deportation; by openly admitting their status, demonstrating against unfair immigration practices and essentially daring the government to do something about it.
A North Carolina activist group organized a protest last month at Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) to bring attention to unfair immigration policies towards undocumented immigrants. It is their intent to serve as a test of the newly stated immigration policy coming from Washington. About 200 people gathered on campus, blocked traffic and shouted “education not deportation” and “undocumented and unafraid.” Police arrested 15 people and charged each with disorderly conduct. Authorities later indicated that 10 of the 15 person arrested were undocumented, meaning they could be subject to deportation.
The administration in Washington announced in August that those without criminal records who are considered low priority candidates for deportation because they are students, were brought to the United States as children, or have long-standing ties to the country would have their deportation matters deferred. In essence, they would be sent to the back of the line.
While not a “free pass,” immigration activists hope immigration reform like the Dream Act will be accomplished before those cases are taken up again. It is one thing to announce a policy change and another to see it in action, and that was part of the stated purpose behind the demonstrations at CPCC.
Police authorities say they complied with all regulations by photographing, fingerprinting and screening each person arrested to determine whether they are in the country legally. They concluded 10 of those arrested were undocumented. True to the word of the federal government, local authorities were instructed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to refrain from issuing immigration detainers to each individual. Without a detainer, authorities simply released the individuals on their own recognizance.
The demonstration appears to have brought attention to the issues and its participants also avoided any immediate deportation proceedings. There seems little doubt that immigration law and reform will take center stage in the upcoming presidential election. For those facing deportation or other immigration court issues in Washington, an attorney devoted to helping individuals and families reach for their dreams may offer some support and help fight for a just conclusion.
Source: Charlotte Observer, “Three young coming out protesters released from jail,” Gary L. Wright and Franco Ordonez, Sept. 8, 2011