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Nineteen-year-old David Morales was well on his way to pursuing his dream of higher education and becoming a Christian pastor. Alas, on his way to a Bible college in Louisiana, he was stopped by immigration agents who boarded his Greyhound bus, asking passengers for their papers. Morales admitted that he was not a U.S. citizen. The next thing he knew, Morales was arrested and spent 17 days in jail before his family posted a $4,000 bond.
Conservatives across the country must be proud. Detaining and deporting pious young students is such a Christian value.
Morales has a history of community service. As a high-schooler, he raised money to help homeless teens. He volunteered as a Spanish interpreter at Woodrow Wilson Elementary. He spoke at graduation, telling his fellow students that they had climbed a mountain peak they once viewed as too tall to reach. After all, Morales had climbed the mountain peak himself. He is the first person in his family to graduate from high school. And he does not plan to stop there. The young man has his sights set on graduate school and possibly a doctorate someday.
Less than two weeks ago, President Obama spoke about children of undocumented immigrants in his State of the Union address in glowing terms, praising them for their productivity and promise to the American fabric. Unfortunately, under his watch, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials continue raiding public transportation to detain and deport those very students.
ICE has been terrorizing immigrants and people of color traveling via Greyhound and Amtrak for several years now. Earlier, another DREAM Act-eligible student Jonathan Chavez also fell victim to similar shenanigans on his way back to Arkansas and now finds himself in deportation.
As a rule of thumb, people are under no legal obligation to answer questions from immigration authorities. David Morales did not need to admit that he was not a U.S. citizen. He had the right to remain silent. Of course, the alternative may not have turned out differently. Frustrated, many ICE officers would have broken the law and probably arrested and dragged him to the nearest facility in any event.
Morales is now back in Utah with his family and awaiting a court hearing in Louisiana. Demand that ICE grant David Morales deferred action so that he can continue his education and serve his community with dignity.
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