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DREAM Activist Speaks Out on Infiltrating Florida Detention Center to Find Wrongly Held Immigrants

StoryAugust 01, 2012
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Guests
Viridiana Martinez

DREAM activist with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance. She spoke to us from the Broward Transitional Center in Florida, where she is currently detained.


In a Democracy Now! exclusive, we’re joined by DREAM activist Viridiana Martinez, who calls us live from a detention center in Pompano Beach, Florida. Martinez is one of a group of undocumented activists with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance who have infiltrated the Broward Transitional Center and found dozens of immigrants who should be released under Obama’s discretionary guidelines. A review of cases to remove low-priority deportations, such as those involving immigrants with no criminal records and strong family ties, has so far stopped less than 2 percent of removals. Click here to listen to a longer interview with Martinez conducted by Democracy Now!’s Renée Feltz. [includes rush transcript]


TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We turn now to a DREAMer detained. In a Democracy Now! exclusive, we go now to a DREAM activist, Martinez, who is calling us now from a detention center in Pompano Beach, Florida.

AMY GOODMAN: Viridiana Martinez is one of a group of undocumented activists with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance who have infiltrated the Broward Transitional Center and found dozens of immigrants who should be released under Obama’s discretionary guidelines. A review of cases to remove low-priority deportations, such as those involving immigrants with no criminal records and strong family ties, has so far stopped less than 2 percent of removals.

Viridiana Martinez, welcome to Democracy Now! Describe where you are right now. We just have a minute, but why were you willing to be arrested and deported to find out what was happening inside this jail?

VIRIDIANA MARTINEZ: Yes, ma’am. Good morning.

I am at Broward detention center right now talking to you on the phone. Basically, I have been—I allowed myself to be detained, because we knew that—we were getting phone calls, we were getting emails from family members of people who had been picked up and were, for months and months and months and months, being held here. And we were taking their cases from afar, creating online petitions for them to stop their deportation. And after the many calls and the many emails, we decided to come here and see what was going on. And what we have found is, like expected, that a majority of cases here are low-priority cases that, according to President Obama’s announcement last year, he was not going to be departing. And yet, they’re all being held here.

AMY GOODMAN: Viridiana, are you going to be deported?

VIRIDIANA MARTINEZ: [inaudible] I mean, [inaudible]. You know, but it’s not—I think that I’m pretty—I mean, based on, you know, the deferred action announcement, I’m pretty safe, I would say. As for people that I—that I came in here, the cases that I came in here to expose are those people who, you know, don’t have the spotlight. They’re not DREAMers. And, you know, they’re the people who have been detained for two-and-a-half years, for, you know, over eight months now, for—you know, that are suffering in terrible conditions. They clearly should be released, and they’re not. They’re being held here. And this place is owned by a private company, by GEO, and there is money being made at the expense of—at the suffering of these people.

AMY GOODMAN: Viridiana Martinez, I want to thank you for being with us, a DREAM activist with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, who got arrested and is inside the Broward Transitional Center, got arrested on purpose so that she could find out if others are there who should be released. This is a private jail owned, run by GEO. For a full interview with her, you can go to democracynow.org. Democracy Now!'s Renée Feltz does a half-hour interview to find out what's happening in the jail.

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