Saturday Sep 22, 201203:39 PM GMT
Undocumented immigrants start civil disobedience to defy tough law
Sat Sep 22, 2012 3:2PM
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Police arrest undocumented immigrant Miguel Guerra after blocking an intersection during the Joe Arpaio civil racial profiling trial July 24. / Gannett


A growing number of undocumented immigrants in Arizona and other states are taking immigration protests to a new extreme, staging acts of civil disobedience by deliberately getting arrested in order to be turned over to federal immigration officials.

 

Often wearing T-shirts declaring themselves "undocumented and unafraid," the protesters have sat down in streets and blocked traffic, or occupied buildings in several cities including Phoenix and Tucson.

 

Dozens of protesters have been arrested, but in almost every case, federal immigration officers have declined to deport those in the country illegally. Protesters say they are planning more acts of civil disobedience.

 

The acts are intended to openly defy stepped-up immigration enforcement that has led to record deportations over the past three years. In Arizona, protesters are focused now on enforcement of a portion of the state's Senate Bill 1070 immigration law.

 

By getting arrested, immigrants say they are making a point: Undocumented immigrants who are part of this country shouldn't have to live in fear of being deported and deserve to live here legally. They also think immigration authorities are less likely to deport illegal immigrants arrested in public because the government doesn't want the negative attention.

 

Undocumented immigrants could be taking a chance if getting arrested leads to a criminal record that could prevent them from gaining legal status in the future.

 

Carlos Velez-Ibanez, director of Arizona State University's School of Transborder Studies, said the rise in civil disobedience is the result of a new crop of leaders who are inspired by some of the tactics of the civil rights and Chicano movements of the 1960s and 1970s. usatoday.com

FACTS & FIGURES

The rise of civil disobedience shows how some immigrant groups are turning to more-extreme measures out of frustration that the marches, work stoppages, voter drives and boycotts of the past have not worked. Reforms that include a proposed legalization program for millions of undocumented immigrants have not passed Congress, and deportations keep going up. azcentral.com

 

According to a federal report titled Immigration Enforcement Actions: 2011, ICE detained a record 429,000 foreigners without documentation, and expelled about 188,000 immigrants with criminal records - another unprecedented number during 2011 fiscal year. macon.com

 

According to the same ICE numbers, almost 2 million undocumented immigrants were deported between 2007 and last year. Initially, most of those deported were immigrants who simply did not have papers. macon.com

 

Groups such as the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, Dream Activist and Puente Arizona, which is based in Phoenix, are only a few years old or less. But they have quickly built national followings through the use of websites, Facebook, email blasts, Twitter and YouTube videos to promote civil disobedience. usatoday.com

 

After conducting a review, the Arizona Department of Transportation has concluded that the state will not issue driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants granted work permits under President Barack Obama's deferred-action program. azcentral.com

AN /HJ

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