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by Alicia Torres

Early this afternoon word started spreading that residents of western NC are in fear of driving because ICE was present in the area. By 1:30 pm word was out that at least 20 people had already been picked up. According to those in the local area, ICE is stopping people on the way out of Cashiers, near the Wal-Mart in Sylva, and in Dillsboro – even stopping people as they are walking. At the roadblocks, police are asking for everyone’s IDs not just the driver’s license of the driver, which is the norm.

This attack on the undocumented community of western NC can only lead us to conclude that we, the undocumented community, cannot expect any sort of relief from the current Obama administration. Furthermore, it should alert us all that we need to develop a vigilant eye for the spread of ICE activity in our state.

We must look out not just for ourselves but for each other. According to western NC residents, they had never before witnessed as much ICE activity as today. And my gut is telling me that such intense activity will only spread into other areas of North Carolina. After all, our state has always been a testing ground for Department of Homeland Security programs such as Secure Communities and 287-g.

The painful aftermath of being picked up or having a loved one picked up by ICE may be experienced by 20 or more families in Western NC today. Such open attacks on our undocumented community are clear efforts to intimidate and instill fear in our communities and sow future seeds of injustice.

But WE, the undocumented community, should not back down from this attack; instead I invite you to fight back! Let’s fight back for ourselves, our families, and our right to a life free of fear of ICE and police intimidation. Let’s fight back against the injustices that seem to always accompany the presence of ICE in our communities.

I invite you to take pictures, to record (via phone or whatever medium), to write, and, above all, to make public whatever ICE is doing in your community. We have to be proactive in the change that we want to see. We have to hold Obama accountable for his attack on our undocumented communities. But we have to do it together, and everyone has to play their part.

Again, I ask you to keep a vigilant eye out for ICE activity and any possible injustice and publicize them.  And you can also always contact us, NC DREAM Team.

image by Steve Pavey

January 30, 2012

Contact: Viridiana Martinez (919) 704-0599

[email protected]

On National Undocumented Youth Mental Health Day, North Carolina Dream Team holds vigil for suicide DREAMer in detention

RALEIGH – Undocumented youth around the country are holding vigils as part of “Undocumented Youth Mental Health Day” in response to the imminent deportation of Yanelli Hernandez, a DREAM Act-eligible youth who has attempted suicide while in detention. She is set to be deported Tuesday, prompting vigils all across the country, including one in Raleigh organized by the NC DREAM Team.

“Yanelli was stripped of her clothes and held in solitary confinement after attempting to take her life while in detention,” said Viridiana Martinez, a member of the NC DREAM Team who herself is a survivor of depression and suicide.  “She needs to be at home where she can be cared for and supported by her family, not deported to a country where she has no one.”

Last November, undocumented youth Joaquin Luna committed suicide, spurring discussions among immigrant rights activists about what to do about the apparent epidemic of major depression among undocumented youth. While immigrant youth activists found out about Luna far too late, Hernandez’ fate still hangs in the balance. Youth across the country are rallying to save her.

The constant risk of detention and deportation, limited opportunities and an uncertain future inflict profound psychic wounds on undocumented youth. Among the approximately 51,000 potential DREAM Act beneficiaries in NC, an untold many of them face depression. Undocumented Mental Health Day represents a community organizing to address the problem.

WHAT: Vigil for Suicide DREAMer, Yanelli Hernandez

WHERE: YWCA of the Greater Triangle (554 E. Hargett Street, Raleigh)

WHEN: Monday, January 30, 2012

WHO: North Carolina Dream Team


The North Carolina Dream Team is an organization composed of undocumented immigrant youth and allies who are dedicated to the creation of a community-led immigrant rights movement in North Carolina. We aim to help undocumented youth recognize our individual and collective power to activate our communities.

Over the next few days, expect to see more posts about a Charlotte-area man fighting his deportation. Despite official claims that ‘low priority’ undocumented folks would not be caught up in the deportation dragnet, Javier Santos is still having to face all of this- over a broken license plate light. For those of you who haven’t already seen this:

Please, take a moment from your day- seriously, a couple of minutes at most- to sign Javier’s petition and make a phone call to help reunite Javier with his wife and two three children.  Sadly, because of his continuing detention, ICE wouldn’t let Javier be there for the birth of their third child.

Each day matters- keep making calls and watch this space for more ways to help Javier.

By Justin Valas

One thing that we have [sadly] gotten used to as organizers is that sometimes, the voices of the undocumented are overlooked, ignored or misrepresented. That’s part of why we, as the NC Dream Team exist. Take, for example, September 6th, 2011.

Seven undocumented youth from across the state came out of the shadows, dropped the fear and disclosed their immigration status in a very public way. Listening to their stories and their reasons for taking this brave action painted a complex picture of the harsh reality that faces undocumented immigrants in North Carolina and around the country. They came out decrying a community college system that throws undocumented youth to the back of the bus- if not under it. Charging them four times the tuition rate [regardless of their ability to show high school diplomas or tax records that would provide in-state tuition for their documented and citizen peers] while demanding that they scavenge through the post-registration leftovers. They also called out policies and programs that blur the line between local police officers and federal immigration agents- 287g and “Secure” Communities.

It’s a shame that the complexity of the reality that they tried to expose proved too complex. Many in the media referred to the act of civil disobedience as a “DREAM Act Rally”. Potential allies looked at what happened and saw it as a chance to express their solidarity with the passage of the DREAM Act.

Don’t get me wrong- we’re not opposing the DREAM Act. Believe me, we’re not. But the reason I bring this up is because listening – really listening – to the voices of these brave youth is important. They are trying to expose their reality, the reality that we all live in- consciously or not. It is a reality that our government pursues most intensely when no one is watching.

I bring this up now because the same day that these youth undertook this action, they met another undocumented person who was caught up by the same policies they were fighting against. Javier Santos was not surrounded by hundreds of supporters at the time of his arrest. He was unceremoniously picked up by the police dragnet and received very different treatment from the youth arrested that day. While they are free today, Javier continues to sit in a detention center awaiting deportation. ICE kept him separate from his wife and children while his wife brought their third daughter into the world. He has been unable to provide for his family for the past month because of these community destroying policies. All this while President Obama claims that “low priority” cases [like Javier's] would not face deportation.

It is this reality that the undocumented youth were calling your attention to. It is Javier who needs your support and attention as much as they needed it on September 6th. Please, take action today to help bring Javier home to his family. Signing this petition is important. Making the phone calls is important. Combined, they will take less than 5 minutes of your day. You can help this father see his newborn daughter for the first time- will you?

Undocumented immigrants are not the only ones who need to stand up and take action. For the rest of us, friends, lovers, classmates-we need to stand ready at the side of those we love. With that in mind, here’s Valentina’s story.

“My name is Valentina Pavone, I am Fredd Reyes‘ proud girlfriend of 5 years now. He is the most amazing person I know and have ever known. I’ve always known that Fredd was undocumented-I just never knew what it could really mean for us and how much they could take away.

September 25th,2010 is a date that I will never forget. I received a phone call: “They took Fredd”.

At first I wanted to pretend I didn’t know what this meant, but I knew it very well-Fredd and I had discussed this before. He got caught, I wanted so much to believe it was a dream. I remember waking up at 6am the next day crying hysterically. I tried to call Fredd to tell him I had a terrible dream but his phone was off. That’s when I felt it-this was really happening.

I couldn’t eat for days. It took a while to figure out the phone system-then, finally, I could hear his voice. I didn’t hear what I wanted to hear; he was going to be transferred to a detention center in Georgia where he would probably be deported from. The timing was uncertain, I kept strong for him-I had to, because I knew no matter what happened, they couldn’t tear us apart. We made a plan and we knew we would be back together again.

I went to visit him every Sunday. Five hours there, five hours back, but I would only get one hour and we had a glass between us. I couldn’t even hold his hand. It was awful; I cried every time I left. I knew he didn’t deserve that-none of it-they were tearing him apart. For what? For wanting a better life? For wanting an education? For wanting the so called “American dream”?

Weeks went by before I knew it. Fredd was going on two months of being detained. He was set to be deported to Guatemala, but then some angels came along. All of you-because of you-November 24th became the best day of my life! I got a phone call: “baby I’m coming home, I’m free!” I will never be able to repay anyone back for what they did because it would never be enough, but I promise all of you that I will stand by you! When Fredd was locked up, I was looking for support, answers. I didn’t think I could be the only one going through this-I wanted to see if others shared their story. I came across way more than I wanted. So many people like me where suffering because of immigration-so many knew what detention centers were. I’d never wish it on anyone. It was the hardest time in my life. Just imagine for a minute having your loved one just taken away from you without being able to do anything. Finding these stories, though, motivated me-they made me realize that nobody needs to be afraid. I didn’t have to go around pretending this was not happening to me. It was time to speak up take a stand.

All we have is our voice. I know it may be scary-and at times, even painful to admit-I can’t even count the many times I have been angry, but being angry and doing nothing will only leave you bitter. That’s why I’m so proud to have a team like the NC DREAM Team. We do something about it. If you want something to change, then you can’t wait around for someone to do it for you. Stand up and do something about it, and that’s exactly what I am doing. I’m going to take action. I’m not going to let them decide what is going to happen. It’s so important for people to take a stand; everyone makes a difference. I will admit that this was probably one of the hardest things I have ever gone through and will ever go through, but it also made me realize that I can’t stay quiet anymore, none of us can. Together we can do anything. I was born in Italy and moved here when I was 10 years old-I’m not undocumented but I’m unafraid and most definitely unashamed to stand up with you all! You deserve the dream, you deserve your rights!!!

UPDATE: Via VivirLatino: 15,000 documents on Secure Communities have been released after litigation by the National Day Laborers Organizing Network brought forward under the Freedom of Information Act. The documents reveal blatant federal manipulation of local law enforcement as they suggest that S-Comm is involuntary.

The Secure Communities program, or S-Comm, has been adopted by the North Carolina counties of Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Hyde, Pamlico, Tyrrell and Washington. That means 92% of North Carolina counties participate in the program. It is likely that the remaining eight counties will join in the next few weeks.

Secure Communities is a program that began in 2007 in Texas and North Carolina that allows local officials to place a detainer on individuals that police believe are in the country without a current visa. Biometric identification is used to verify the immigration status and criminal history of those arrested by local law enforcement and supposedly allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement to prioritize the deportation of violent criminals. According to the ICE website:

“If fingerprints match DHS records, ICE determines if immigration enforcement action is required, considering the immigration status of the alien, the severity of the crime and the alien’s criminal history.”

However, local jurisdictions across the country have taken issue with the program, saying that it encourages racial profiling and the deportation of a large number of non-criminals. After San Francisco requested to opt-out of the program, ICE was unsure in its response as to whether or not the program was voluntary, and which jurisdiction (either local or state) was responsible for choosing to opt-out of the program.

President Obama has stated his support for Secure Communities and hopes to expand the program over the next few years.

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  • @joshabla xoxoxo!#FWYH 16 hours ago

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