Undocumented youth arrested in civil disobedience are released from Atlanta jail

By Kosta Harlan |
April 8, 2011
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Durham, NC - A little over 24 hours after their initial arrests, the undocumented youth who blocked traffic in a civil disobedience action are declaring a victory after they were released from the Atlanta Corrections Detention Center April 7.

The youth were protesting the new law banning undocumented immigrant youth from accessing higher education in Georgia. In a statement issued through TheDreamIsComing.com, one of the protesters, Georgina Perez, said, “We had a simple request of the president; do not comply with the ban on undocumented youth. Instead of hearing us out, when trying to deliver a letter [on April 5], the door was almost shut on us.”

While ICE agents interviewed the youth at the beginning of their detention, ICE did not move to place them in deportation proceedings.

“We wanted to challenge the system and the system completely broke down,” said Viridiana Martinez, one of the protesters. “It was a victory in that it proved that even in the South, in the state that holds the biggest detention center, undocumented youth took a stand and faced deportation and the system broke down.”

When asked about the connections between the struggles for immigrants rights in North Carolina and Georgia, Martinez told Fight Back!, “We came into this understanding the connections with North Carolina and Georgia. This is the South which historically has oppressed people of color and continues to oppress people of color.”

Martinez continued, “The immigrant youth movement needed to take a stand and to make that statement here in the South. You hear all this stuff about Arizona, but you rarely hear about North Carolina, South Carolina or Georgia. And things are only getting worse after the DREAM Act failed. There’s been no relief for our community, just more enforcement.”

Martinez emphasized, “Fear is the biggest weapon of the anti-immigrants,” and urged other undocumented youth to come out of the shadows and take a stand.

With bans on education pending in the North Carolina legislature - HB 11 and HB 343, introduced by Rep. George Cleveland (R-Onslow) - the struggle to demand justice for undocumented youth will escalate in the coming weeks and months. Martinez concluded, “It’s no longer about advocates speaking for us, but it’s about acting - taking a stance through actions. That’s what we’re bringing back home.”

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