Undocumented, Unafraid and Now Undercover

Immigration [ICE] thinks it can go after us, well we have news for them, we can go after them too. We can enter their detention centers on our own terms and, with your support, we can come out.

– Mohammad Abdollahi

Alabama’s new immigration law requires that all schools verify the immigration status of children enrolling for the first time and renders contracts entered into with undocumented persons unenforceable, making it next to impossible for undocumented families to obtain utilities such as gas and water in their homes. It marks a new era of hateful segregation in a state that has still not come to terms with the fact that it was on the losing side of the Civil War.

Last Tuesday, 13 undocumented individuals, including four parents, led a civil disobedience action at the Alabama state capitol in protest of HB56. They were arrested by the police for “disturbing the peace” and released within 48 hours. A spokesperson from ICE said no detainer was placed on the individuals and in fact, that all persons were legal residents, which is in fact, untrue. (Ironically, under HB-56, anyone can now sue the police and ICE for not enforcing state immigration law by letting the 13 undocumented protesters go scot-free, but I digress).

The action shows the hypocrisy of the Obama Administration in enforcing immigration laws. Undocumented youth get labeled as legal residents and left alone to fend for themselves when they organize civil disobedience actions. But if an undocumented immigrant is without a large network of supporters and just trying to make an honest living, s/he is more at risk of being detained and deported for something as small as a traffic infraction.

Such is the case with Jonathan Perez and Isaac Barrera — two DREAM-Act eligible youth — who walked into an Alabama Border Patrol office protesting against HB56. Both were detained and, within hours, transferred to the Basile Immigration Detention Center in Southern Louisiana. As they await deportation inside the detention center, Isaac and Jonathan are organizing and collecting stories of those who have been silenced, those who don’t have access to networks in order to tell their stories.

From initial reports, it looks like the Basile Immigration Detention Center is home to many individuals that ICE has detained for more than 6 months without the right to see a lawyer or immigration judge. Additionally, one particular case concerns an allegedly undocumented couple, arrested by ICE after they dropped their child to school. No one knows where the child is now, probably in foster care, like thousands of other U.S. citizen kids, who have been rendered homeless by stringent and senseless immigration enforcement policies.

Imagine doing this across the country: Getting detained and entering immigrant detention facilities across the country in order to gain access to the immigrants that ICE has deemed as criminals, processed like animals and locked away to be deported away from their homes and families.

This year, I’m getting the chance to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family even as I face an order of deportation as early as next month. I’d like Jonathan and Isaac and so many others who have been deprived basic due process rights to have the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving with their families. Take action and support the work of Isaac and Jonathan from within the detention center. Lets get them home by Thanksgiving.

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