July 30, 2012

Contact: Cynthia Martinez
cinth.martinez91@gmail.com
919.895.0253

NC Activist Infiltrates Florida Detention Center to Prove Bad Policies Continue

Organizing inside jail, Viridiana fights deportations from inside prison

CHARLOTTE—The North Carolina Dream Team will hold a press conference today outside the OFA office in Charlotte, NC (301 East 9th St., Charlotte) to discuss our internal review of Broward Transitional Center in Broward, Florida. Undocumented NIYA activists placed themselves inside the detention center in order to find people that should have been released as low-priority cases or by the new deferred action policy.

WHEN: July 31st 11 A.M.
WHERE: OFA office in Charlotte (301 East 9th St., Charlotte)
WHO: North Carolina Dream Team

Viridiana Martinez, a member of both NCDT and NIYA and well-known activist in North Carolina, placed herself inside Broward two weeks ago in order to find women who were eligible for discretion. Claudio Rojas, a father and family man who is doing the same on the men’s side of the prison, was taken to Broward after being arrested by Border Patrol when he mistakenly drove his car into the Ft. Lauderdale port. He is now aiding NIYA in finding cases and has began a hunger strike until he is returned to his family. Viridiana is eligible for deferred action and Claudio is eligible for prosecutorial discretion.

Viridiana has been actively fighting for immigrant rights in North Carolina since first beginning a hunger strike with two other women in 2010, and has now continued to fight by infiltrating a detention center in Florida. In 2011 she committed her first act of civil disobedience in Atlanta, GA, fighting Georgia’s top 5 universities for banning undocumented students.She has also helped in the organizing or several Know Your Rights trainings around the state and help stop several deportations. She’s been in the forefront of the struggle for immigrant rights here in NC, making appearances at the General Assembly and lobbying for our immigrant rights. Viridiana has been confronted by anti-immigrant organizations like Mr. William Gheen director or ALIPAC, and has been in numerous media outlets defending our community.

Since June 17, 2011, the Obama Administration has insisted that it has been using discretion in deportation cases which can be considered “low-priority” or cause undue hardship for citizen family members. In June of this year, Obama announced extending deferred action to undocumented youth after we occupied his campaign offices for two weeks, costing his campaign thousands of hours of staff time.

In order to challenge Immigration and Customs Enforcement and GEO Group, Inc. which owns the facility, we have placed multiple NIYA members inside Broward Transitional Center to find people who are eligible for
deferred action, are low-priority cases, or may be eligible for visas. In this one facility alone, we have found dozens of people who, according to the Obama policies of the past year, should be released back to their families.

According to the information given to us by the activists inside, there are:

At least six people inside Broward who have pending application for a U Visa;
More than a dozen DREAM Act-eligible youth;
Over 60 who have no criminal record or prior deportations;
More than three dozen who are still eligible for discretion despite previous contacts with the system;
Several cases of immigrants in need of immediate medical care, including blood clots and a bullet in the spine.

We are demanding a full review of Broward along with the release of all eligible persons inside. GEO is paid $166 per day for the people they are holding that are eligible for relief. One woman seeking asylum from the Ukraine has been inside over 2.5 years despite already having a work visa, costing taxpayers more than $51,000.

ICE is aware that we are organizing inside. Just over the weekend, we heard that an abnormally large number of people were being released. We have also been told that the guards inside have been threatening people with federal prison for calling our hotline. Conversations about the facility over the phone have been cut short.

NIYA will no longer allow GEO Group or other private prison corporations to profit off of shattered families and broken lives. We will continue to organize inside their jails until the president lives up to his promises.

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The NC DREAM Team is an organization composed of undocumented immigrant youth and allies. We are dedicated to the creation of a sustainable, community-led immigrant rights movement in North Carolina. We aim to help undocumented youth recognize our individual and collective power to activate our communities. We also aim to create awareness of the broader struggle for social justice. We will escalate in our efforts to achieve a just reform that is acceptable to–and guided by–the voices of those directly affected by our broken immigration system. We do not shy away from purposeful direct action and civil disobedience in the pursuit of a more just future for our immigrant community.

For more info: http://action.dreamactivist.org/btc/

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