Here is a statement from DREAMer leader Erika Andiola that was shared with the press today in response to news that her home was raided last night by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
For a couple of years now I have been speaking to media about other cases, Dreamers and their families put into deportation proceedings, I have attended ICE offices and clinics, but this is the first time I have been here on behalf of my own mother.
ICE went to my home, knocked on my door and asked for my mother. My mother came out of her room not knowing what was happening. ICE told her to come closer to the door, told her everything was going to be okay then handcuffed her in front of me and my 15-year-old brother. My older brother, who came at the age of 17 and is now 34, was outside the house. He refused to answer questions and was cuffed and taken in as well. I wanted to get him away from my family and make them stop, but they took them both. I started contacting people within the community and the movement and thank God I got a lot of really great support from people I have worked with in the past.
My brother has been released as of 7 this morning. I came to immigration offices with my little brother at 2 in the morning and they told me my brother would be released and my mother would be sent to Florence and deported ‘right away.’
On several occasions they told me things about the case and my mother that were not true. My brother told me that not only did ICE have profiles of my mother and brother but also of me, and they told him ‘We know all about your sister, we know about what your sister does, and you should get away from that.’
Thanks to all the people who have stood up and asked the President, the administration and members of congress to help us. It makes me extremely happy to know that my mother is here, but it makes me extremely sad that it took all day and thousands of calls to stop the deportation of one person. We shouldn’t have to do that. We shouldn’t have to work so hard for just one person. I am asking president Obama and his Administration to stop separating families. Having been separated from my mother and brother is something I will never get over and forget.
At a press conference today, Andiola also said that the ICE agents were “undercover” and did not identify themselves until they began to arrest her mother. In the meantime, NBC Latino published a statement by ICE about the incident:
One of two individuals detained by ICE in Phoenix, AZ has been released. The other individual will be released imminently. Although one individual had been previously removed from the country, an initial review of these cases revealed that certain factors outlined in ICE’s prosecutorial discretion policy appear to be present and merit an exercise of discretion. A fuller review of the cases is currently on-going. ICE exercises prosecutorial discretion on a case-by-case basis, considering the totality of the circumstances in an individual case.
At a press conference this afternoon with immigration organizations, Andiola confirmed that her mother has now been released as well and is returning back home. This does not guarantee that she or her son can get arrested again, and speakers at the conference urged the Obama administration to take actions that would limit incidents like these in the future, not only for Andiola’s family, but for all low-priority individuals.
Here are some additional remarks made by the conference’s other attendees:
Cristina Jimenez, Managing Director of United We Dream
Erika is a longtime leader in the DREAM and immigrant rights movement; she has fought tirelessly for a better nation that affirms our values and opportunity in this country. This action by ICE has shocked DREAMers all across the country. Advocates from coast to coast are expressing outrage and denouncing the detention of Erika’s mother and calling for an end to all family separations.
We won’t stop pressuring the President and members of Congress to work on a solution that provides a pathway to citizenship for our community, for DREAMers and for our families. We won’t stop until we get that done in 2013.
Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center
Not all immigrant families have the benefit of Erika to mobilize the whole country over night. The Andiola family is just another example of the cost of the broken system that continues to hurt millions of immigrants across the country. We cannot keep fixing this one worker, one family member at a time. While we wait for immigration reform, the President can act now so that millions of immigrants do not have to live in constant fear of deportation.
Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund
This is not an isolated incident; this happens every day. We salute the amazing work of DREAMers and allies who mobilized in this case, but enforcement actions like this happen outside the spotlight every day. This is what 400,000 deportations look like The President says repeatedly that DHS’ priorities are to go after the ‘worst of the worst.’ But despite existing prosecutorial discretion policy, officers on the ground seem much more focused on filling the annual deportation quota than in following the President’s priorities. With real immigration reform on tap this year, it’s ridiculous to think we’re spending billions of dollars arresting people who will be on the road to citizenship once Congress enacts reform.