January 2013, Week 2


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Sat, 12 Jan 2013 11:51:07 -0500
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Release of DREAMer Erika Andiola's Family
Highlights Youth Movement's Power

By Julianne Hing
January 11, 2013


Within hours of an immigration raid on her family's
home last night, the mother and brother of
undocumented immigrant activist Erika Andiola's
family were released from immigration detention this
morning. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
has indicated that it will likely exercise prosecutorial
discretion in their cases, the Huffington Post
reported. The swift response came even though
Andiola's mother Maria Arreola and brother
Heriberto Andiola Arreola are undocumented, and
faced likely deportation.

The flurry of public outrage and social media
attention around the case - see the steady stream of
tweets on the hashtag #WeAreAndiola - has
highlighted two things: the power of the immigrant
youth movement and the striking regularity and
cruelty with which immigration agents break up
everyday families in the country.

On Thursday night immigration officers knocked on
Andiola's Arizona home and asked for her mother,
Andiola told reporters on a press call this morning.
They handcuffed Arreola and asked Andiola's older
brother Heriberto, who was standing outside the
home, if he was related to the family. When he
refused to answer questions about his immigration
status, he was arrested as well. Both were taken into
custody and Andiola was notified that her mother
faced imminent deportation because she had a prior
outstanding deportation order against her. While in
custody, Andiola's brother told her immigration
officers had a file on Andiola herself, and when
immigration officers came to her home they did not,
as is common practice, ask Andiola for her own
status. She has work authorization and a social
security number.

But, Andiola, a prominent activist who co-founded
the Arizona Dream Act Coalition and has been an
outspoken leader of the immigrant youth movement,
quickly activated her extensive network, which
include powerful national immigration rights
organizations like the National Immigration Law
Center, America's Voice and DreamActivist.org. "I
immediately started contacting different folks,
people in my community and people in the
movement," Andiola said. "Thank God I got a lot of
really great support from people I had worked with
in the past and right now." But the vast majority of
the over 400,000 immigrants who were deported by
President Obama last year did not have their cases
amplified by social media and seized upon for quick
mobilization by a national movement.

Andiola and immigrant rights groups have used her
exceptional public stature to highlight the utter
normalcy of Andiola's heartwrenching experience of
seeing her mother and brother taken from their
home. The vast majority of those who are detained
and deported are like Andiola's mother, people who
get swept up into the immigration system when they
are pulled over for minor traffic offenses or for
committing the offense of looking potentially
undocumented. "There is a larger point here," said
Frank Sharry, executive director of the immigration
reform group America's Voice. "The raid on Erika's
house and detention and near deportation of her
mother and brother, these are not isolated
incidents. They happen every day in every state."

"This is what 400,000 deportations a year looks
like," Sharry said.

But the conventional wisdom, forged by
undocumented youth, is that those who are open
and public about their immigration status stand a
better chance at defending themselves against
deportation. Time and again, immigrant youth
networks have successfully protected members of
the community from deportation by activating their
networks to put pressure on and publicly shame the
Obama administration into following its own
policies. "Erika is fortunate that she was who she
was," said Marielena Hincapie, executive director of
the National Immigration Law Center. "ICE knew not
to detain her, but ... we cannot continue fighting
each of these deportation cases one DREAMer at a
time, one worker at a time, one family at a time,"
Hincapie said.

Immigrant youth have been here before. In 2007,
three days after the late Tam Tran testified in a
House immigration subcommittee hearing about her
experience as a young undocumented immigrant,
immigration agents raided her family's Southern
California home and arrested her father, mother and
brother. At the time ICE also denied that Tran's
activism was at all related to the raid. California
Rep. Zoe Lofgren disagreed, telling USA Today:
"Would she and her family have been arrested if she
hadn't spoken out? I don't think so." Tran's family
was eventually released.

But it's 2013, and possible politically motivated
retaliation aside - something ICE has denied -
there are more avenues for immigration officials to
come after undocumented immigrant families today.
Andiola's family lives in Arizona, which is enforcing
Section 2b - the famed "show me your papers"
provision - of SB 1070. And with Secure
Communities, the federal government calls on police
to do effectively what SB 1070 attempted, but all
over the country.

"The detention of Erika's mom is the latest case of a
government agency that is out of control, which
continues to target hardworking community
members," said Cristina Jimenez, managing director
of United We Dream, a national network of
immigrant youth organizations. Andiola's
experience, Jimenez said, "really grounds the work
of DREAMers that will continue to put the pressure
on the Obama administration and Congress to work
on a solution that provides a pathway to citizenship
for DREAMers and for our families."


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