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Media Advisory            Tuesday, November 15th

Contact: Mohammad Abdollahi  | Cell: 734.262.9705

Email: mo@dreamactivist.org

Contact: Dayanna Rebolledo | Cell: 313.319.5524

 

Historical Civil Disobedience in Montgomery, Alabama:

Undocumented Parents, 55, 39, 30 and 25 Risk Arrest

Four parents join dozens of undocumented youth in demanding HB56 author—State Senator Beason— stop the hate

 

***Watch Live at 3:00pm EST - http://bit.ly/livealundoc ***

MONTGOMERY, Ala.— 12 undocumented immigrants participate in an act of civil disobedience today in front of the Alabama State Capitol. They will publicly declare their undocumented status in defiance of HB 56, which is considered to be the harshest anti-immigrant bill in the country.

“We want to remind the immigrants of this state that they have a voice and it’s time to use it,” said Belen Rebelledo, an undocumented mother of three.  “We are here to stop Alabama from once again trying to turn the power of the state against those who live in it.”

Participants for today’s event have come together from all over the country to stand in solidarity with the community in Alabama. “What happens to one of us affects all of us regardless of where we live” said Alma Diaz, an undocumented immigrant who arrived in the U.S. at the age of 22.  Now 30 Alma fights for her community and is taking this risk, knowing she could be arrested and deported, because doing nothing is no longer an option. “What has hiding in the shadows gotten us? We must fight back; it is the only way to end the pain we see in our communities.”

When:       November 15th at 2:00pm: Alabama House of Reps

11 South Union Street, Montgomery, AL 36130-2102

What:  Undocumented parents and youth deliver a letter to state legislators demanding a change in anti-immigrant rhetoric and wait for response.

Where:  In front of Alabama State Legislature.

Who:  Martin Unzueta, 55; Belen Rebelledo, 39; Alma Diaz, 30; Jaime Guzman, 25, of Portland, OR; Catalina Rios, 19, of Detroit, MI; Ernesto Zumaya, 25, of Los Angeles, CA;  Myasha Arellano, 18, of San Fernando Valley, CA; Krsna Avila, 23, of Oakland, CA; Fernanda Marroquin, 22, of Philadelphia, PA; Cesar Marroquin, 21, of Philadelphia, PA; and Cynthia Perez, 27, of Indianapolis, IN.

Martin Unzueta, an undocumented immigrant living in the U.S. for the past 17 years is taking action to confront the lies; “The Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement lie because they are hurting our communities with their actions. We are doing civil disobedience because we are not afraid of confronting those who lie.”

Jaime Limon-Guzman, an undocumented parent from Oregon is in Alabama to protect his family; “At 12, my parents brought me to the U.S.to give me a better life.  I worry everyday for my 2 year old daughter, I am now taking the same risk my parents took to give her a better and more secure future.

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The Alabama Youth Collective is an undocumented youth-led organization working to better the lives of immigrants in the state of Alabama.  The Youth Collective firmly believes in the principles of non-violent direct action.

 

Profile of parents participating in today’s civil disobedience

Belen Rico came to the U.S. 11 years ago to provide her children with a more promising future. Now 39 years old and a mother of three, she works multiple jobs in order to provide for her family. After spending time with immigrant communities inAlabama, she has witnessed first-hand how HB 56 is tearing families apart. Recognizing that she cannot sit by inDetroit while such injustice is happening inBirmingham, Belen feels that the time has come to take a stand. In her words, “As parents, we need to come out of the shadows and walk side by side with our children. We need to stand united so that our message can be strong and clear: we will no longer remain silent.”

Martin Unzueta has been in the United States for 17 years. A resident of Chicago,Illinois, the 55 year-old has been a long-time community organizer and now advocates for the rights of workers at the Chicago Community and Workers’ Rights Center. Martin refuses to stay silent while 1,100 people are deported every day. He recognizes that the majority of them are victims of Secure Communities, which criminalizes the families and workers like him who form the backbone of this society. He is taking this risk because he is tired of seeing his children suffer and is tired of the lies of ICE. Martin is fighting back because he will not be afraid of those who lie to entire communities under the guise of freedom.

Alma Diaz has lived in America for almost a decade. From Cincinnati,Ohio, she has worked hard to achieve the elusive American Dream. At 30 years old,Alma is a wife and mother, a student at Cincinnati State Community College, where she studies Business Management, and a community volunteer at the Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center, where she educates her fellow community members about their rights and fights to minimize wage theft. She has demonstrated, through her actions, her value of service to the community and of education. With these same values in mind,Alma is taking action in Alabama. She hopes to empower other undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows and take a stand, in order to keep their families together and hold America accountable to its own values.

Jaime Limon-Guzman came to the United States at age 12 from Mexico. Jaime currently works as an organizer and mentor in his community in Oregon. As a young parent of a 2 year old, He fears he will be separated from his daughter due to his immigration status. Jaime decided to risk deportation by sharing his story in Alabama in hopes to put an end to law that dehumanizes his community.

 

Remaining profiles will be loaded on www.dreamactivist.org    |    @dreamact

Contact:
José Rico (919) 802-0508
dreamteamnc@gmail.com
ncdreamteam.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Cowards in the General Assembly Propose Bill Attacking Children
NC DREAM Team vows to stop the attacks on undocumented youth

RALEIGH, NC—Although not a single “restrictionist” bill in the General Assembly has addressed the biggest employers of undocumented immigrants in the state—state farms—several bills have attacked school children and college students. By proposing HB 744, a bill that would force students to reveal their status to school officials, North Carolina legislators are telling undocumented immigrants working and living in our state that they are good enough to pick its residents’ food, but not good enough to sit next to them in class.

“Our communities are under attack,” said Viridiana Martinez, an undocumented immigrant who has been an active fighter for immigrant rights. “We will expose this nasty bill and everyone behind it.”

Anti-immigrant groups frequently lament the 1982 Supreme Court decision of Plyler V. Doe, which protects the right of undocumented students to attend public education through high school. However, legislators in the segregationist South have begun to find new ways to direct their prejudice at school children. The Alabama State Senate passed a bill that would ban undocumented immigrants from attending extracurricular activities like prom and afterschool sports. NC Republicans also refused to make an exception in the Matricula Consular bill, HB 33, for educators to accept the Matricula to identify the parents of children at the school, both citizen and non-citizen.

Earlier this month, US Department of Education had to remind school districts of their obligation to provide an equal education to undocumented immigrant children. The DOE released a letter (co-signed by the Department of Justice) stating that “Recently, we have become aware of student enrollment practices that may chill or discourage the participation, or lead to the exclusion, or students based on their or their parents’ or guardians’ actual or perceived citizenship or immigration status. These practices contravene Federal law.”

Requiring children to register their immigration status with their schools will inevitably result in discrimination, harassment or exclusion. Plain and simple, the legislators who support these bills are unprincipled cowards.
###

Please join us in  Raleigh on Thursday, April 7, for a Community Vigil for Immigrant Rights at 6:30 p.m.

We’ll be convening at the corner of Wilmington and Lane Streets downtown, where three brave undocumented young women from our team participated in a 13-day hunger strike last June. One of them, Viridiana Martinez, was arrested along with the Georgia 7 yesterday. Why?

“Rallying and protesting are no longer enough. Remaining in the shadows is no longer acceptable.”

Let’s not allow any more politicians like Senator Kay Hagan, who killed the DREAM Act in December, to continue dictating the reality facing the undocumented community. Everyday we see another family torn apart by deportation for nothing more than going to work or school. Everyday we see another dream deferred because of unjust educational opportunities. Everyday we see another worker denied a fair wage because of their legal status. We can no longer keep quiet. We’ve drawn a line. Whose side will you fall on? Those that are filled with hate and prejudice? Or those that are willing to stand up for justice and fight for the rights of our undocumented communities?

Please join us tomorrow, and tell a friend. El pueblo unido jamás será vencido.

Viridiana and Jose Rico were arrested yesterday in an act of civil disobedience. Right now, they are being held in an Atlanta jail.

It’ll take your help to get them out. Contribute to their bail funds here:

Viridiana | Jose Rico


 

ATLANTA—Two young undocumented North Carolina residents who participated in a sit-in today on the campus of Georgia State University have been arrested and taken to an area jail. Atlanta participates in the Secure Communities program, which makes the risk of detainment and deportation high.

“I’m doing this because our communities are living in fear,” said Jose Rico, one of two sit-in participants from North Carolina. “51,000 undocumented youth had their dreams torn apart when our senators voted against the DREAM Act. They are trying to criminalize our existence.”

Rico is a student at Wake Tech in Raleigh who plans to transfer to NC State University. After excelling in high school being accepted to numerous colleges, Rico could not afford to go to school because of the out-of-state tuition that undocumented students are required to pay. Rico plans to stay in North Carolina and become an engineer.

Georgia, like North Carolina, is considering banning undocumented students from attending public colleges and universities. Georgia has already banned attendance at its top-tier institutions. Two bills in the NC General Assembly, HB 11 and HB 343, would close the doors to immigrants on higher education. Both bills, along with others, have been introduced by Rep. George Cleveland (R-Onslow).

Viridiana Martinez, the other sit-in participant from North Carolina, has spoken to Cleveland personally.

“He doesn’t understand that he’s hurting people,” Martinez said. “These people are North Carolinians who love this state as much as he does.”

By participating in this sit-in, Martinez and Rico risk arrest and deportation. However, lobbying and political campaigns have yet to deliver federal reform.

“Rallying and protesting are no longer enough,” Martinez said. “Remaining in the shadows is no longer acceptable.”

By Justin Valas

Coming together to celebrate the life and work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr gives us all an important reminder of the call to work to advance the cause of equality, struggle towards civil and human rights, and stand for the dignity of all. We are reminded that the rights of the oppressed and disenfranchised are not freely given, and that America still has much work ahead. Many of us have dedicated sleepless nights and tireless months in advancing the DREAM Act in 2010 as a step towards achieving the beloved community. You can understand our shock when Senator Hagan, fresh off of her last-minute squashing of the dreams of 2 million youth (and her reluctance to make a statement about her decision), asked to be present at an event in Durham celebrating the legacy of Dr. King.

The Senator must have sensed the need for her to shore up her civil rights credentials, beyond just an old photo op and her open opposition to the North Carolina Conference of the NAACP. In her speech, she delivered flowery praise on the importance of those acts of non-violent, civil disobedience that propelled civil rights legislation, piece by piece. She rightly praised the Durham sit-ins, and the role that North Carolina played in propelling the cause of justice forward. She urged us to heed Dr. King’s call and to “renew our commitment to the freedoms and values that define our nation.” Notably absent was any mention of her role as a roadblock to a more just society, and her refusal to meet with youth engaged in the same tactics.

Dr. King’s words, pasted below, rung in my ears as I listened to the paternalistic voice that had told us “I understand, but I cannot support you. I support comprehensive immigration reform.”

“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Letter from a Birmingham Jail

She had refused to meet with us, refused to hear our voices, voted to keep us in the shadows saying ‘now is not the time for the DREAM Act.’ As Dr. King said, “[p]erhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, ‘Wait.’” The keynote speaker at the event candidly spoke on this, when he admitted to becoming tired of the song “We Shall Overcome.” “Someday…. When is ‘someday?’ We’ve been singing this song for 50-some years, and it still isn’t ‘someday,’” he said. Unfortunately, one of the obstacles to making our ‘someday’ become ‘today,’ Senator Hagan, had left the event well before the keynote speaker even took the stage.

Perhaps it was her conscience that compelled her exit. Maybe it was her conscience that lead her to speak to us, in passing, at the event. Before the start of the event, she told some of our members that she plans to focus on immigration, and that “we should meet.”

The words from Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” have not lost their relevance today. While some of the faces and names from King’s day have changed, the realities of injustice remain.

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@NCDREAMTeam

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