Around forty undocumented immigrants protested at the Democratic National Convention. Ten were arrested yesterday. The undocumented immigrants traveled all the way from Phoenix, Arizona, on a bus called the “UndocuBus” under the banner, “No Papers, No Fear.” The ten were released some time today.
The Los Angeles Times reports, “Immigration officials have decided not to detain 10 illegal immigrants who were arrested by police for blocking traffic during a protest near the entrance to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte” on Tuesday. They were, to represent what happened fairly, engaged in civil disobedience. They were not, as the Los Angeles Times downplays what happened, merely “blocking traffic.”
The action was planned to get the attention of Democrats and the administration of President Barack Obama, which deported a record number of people in fiscal year 2011 than ever before.
The White House understands Hispanic voters are critical in the swing states, like Colorado and New Mexico. Thus, unlike Pfc. Bradley Manning supporters or activists against US drone strikes, this is one group that the Obama administration takes seriously.
That DREAMer Benita Veliz is in the lineup of speakers for tonight further indicates that immigrant rights protesters have power. Veliz, according to Colorlines.org, was “detained after a traffic stop in 2009 and received a deportation order shortly after.”
According the Los Angeles Times, “protesters were arrested by officers from the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office.” This “department is part of a program that trains local police to report illegal immigrants to federal authorities.” The department had the power to set deportations of immigrants in motion but did not. Why? Because to do so would grab headlines and call into question the Obama 2012 campaign’s support for immigrants.
That does not mean that a deportation could not be put in motion for any of these individuals after the election. Each of these individuals is protesting at great risk and are well aware of this risk they are taking as undocumented immigrants. Undercover law enforcement agents can take pictures of them and store those for later use in deportation proceedings. But, like previous trailblazers who have fought for civil rights for all people in this country, these DREAMers are engaging in struggle because they favor equality and do not like how Latinos, specifically, are targeted by law enforcement, politicians and others for being brown or foreign.
It is inspirational to see them taking action. It is disheartening to think that what they want Obama to do and rightfully believe he should do will not be done in his second term because he splits the difference between the liberal and conservative positions constantly and as a result can never fully support immigrant rights with actual policies. But, that should not take away from the courage on display here by these individuals who traveled for six weeks and went city to city entering communities to share stories on their fight for immigrant rights and justice.
Below is an excellent video put together on yesterday’s action where the ten undocumented immigrants were arrested: