In Arizona, three of the four protesters arrested in a sit-in this week at the offices of Republican Senator John McCain have been handed over to immigration authorities for possible deportation. The protesters called on McCain to back the DREAM Act, which would grant permanent citizenship to undocumented workers’ children if they completed two years of college, trade school or military service. The three are each undocumented immigrants, marking the first known instance students have risked deportation to back immigration reform legislation. On Tuesday, the fourth protester, Raul Alcaraz, a Tucson resident with permanent status, said the students had initially received indications they wouldn’t be handed over to immigration authorities.
Raul Alcaraz: “After that announcement was made, ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] came in a few minutes later. They came in, and they came covered, so they weren’t identifiable as ICE, but we suspected they were ICE. And then they took each one of them individually out, and then it was announced that they would be taken to ICE. It was confusing, because first, you know, in the hearing we’re being told that there’s no ICE hold on anybody, and then the next minute ICE is there questioning people through the back door, taking their stuff. It just looked — it looked shady. It looked really weird. And so, there was moments of confusion, definitely.”
One of the students is Mohammad Abdollahi, a gay Iranian national who says he faces persecution if he’s sent back to Iran. Student activist Tania Unzueta also criticized the arrests.
Tania Unzueta: “We feel that it’s really unfortunate, right, that Immigration feels like they should be detaining undocumented students who haven’t done anything wrong. And, you know, the reason why they’re doing this is precisely because we’re looking for a path to legalization through the DREAM Act.”