Undocumented Arizonans Risk Arrest, Come Out at Arapio Trial

Source: Arizona Free Press | http://www.azfreepress.org/2012/07/24/breaking-undocumented-arizonans-risk-arrest-come-out-at-arpaio-trial/

Four Undocumented Arizonans Risk Arrest in Coming Out of the Shadows Civil Disobedience. ‘We Have No Papers and We Are Not Afraid Any Longer,” protestors say.

While Arpaio testifies inside the U.S. courthouse, four undocumented individuals are in the street at the Federal Courthouse (401 W. Washington Street) with a banner that says “No Papers, No Fear: Sin Papeles y Sin Miedo.”

The group released the following statement:

“As undocumented people living in Arizona, we know firsthand what it is like to live under Arpaio’s terror and the constant threat of deportation.  Many of us started participating in the movement for justice the day that Jan Brewer signed SB1070 into law.  We knew at that moment that things were so terrible, we had to do something to protect our families and our communities.  We have learned our rights and our experience has shown us that the best way to fight back is to come out of the shadows and organize.

We have marched and we have protested.  Today we are taking civil disobedience to ensure that our voices are heard.  We are no longer afraid.  Today, we confront publicly what we risk every day, being arrested by the police, and separated from our families, only because we are undocumented. We’re confronting fear itself. We are undocumented and unafraid.  We hope to inspire others in our own community to lose their fear, to come out of the shadows, and to organize.”

The four individuals are: Miguel Guerra, 37; Natally Cruz, 24; Leticia Ramirez, 27; and Isela Meraz, 28.

Miguel Guerra has lived in Phoenix, AZ, since 1998, with his wife and his three children. He works in construction, and has been a volunteer with the Puente Human Rights Movement since shortly after the passage of SB1070, when the organization helped him recover stolen wages from an employer. That same year, he was racially profiled and pulled over by Phoenix PD for an alleged traffic violation and had his car impounded, because as an undocumented immigrant he cannot get a driver’s license. He says that he is willing to take action and risk deportation for dignity. “We want to come out of the shadows.  We want President Obama to see that we are no longer afraid and that that we are demanding that he take action to solve our community’s problems.”

Natally Cruz has made her home in Phoenix, AZ for the last 16 years, since she was seven years old.  She has been a part of the Puente Human Rights Movement for over two years, learning and educating others about the rights of undocumented people.  Over the same period of time, five members of her family have been harassed or detained by Arpaio and his collaborators. Her main motivation to fight for her community is her 7-year-old son.  She says, “We have to come out of the shadows just like the students did: we have to let people know that we are tired of being stepped on.  We are not scared anymore. Enough is enough.”

Leticia Ramirez lives in Phoenix, AZ.  She is a community organizer and health promoter with the Puente Human Rights Movement.  She came to the United States in 1994 when she was 9 years old because her father found better work here than he was able to in Mexico.  She has three U.S. citizen children, and watches her family and her community experience racial profiling every day.  She says, “I am a cake decorator and I can’t even find work doing what I like because I don’t have papers. I want to open the community’s eyes and show them what it looks like to not be afraid, to come out the shadows, and stand united.”

Isela Meraz (Chela) has lived in Phoenix, AZ since 1991. Chela was 8 years old when she came to the US with her parents who wanted a better education and life for their family. She is active in the community, from organizing in the streets, participating in hunger strikes and spiritual fast, to organizing art shows for queer cultura, 3rdSpace, and working with PUENTE. This is Chela’s first time doing a civil disobedience action. “I’m doing this for my parents. For the sacrifice they made bringing me here. To let them know that the obstacle I have encountered are the system’s fault and not theirs. I want people to not be afraid anymore, to know that even though we are undocumented we have rights. We need to tell our stories with pride.”

Live-tweeting and photos available at @undocubus and on Ustream at nopapersnofear.org

Photos of the action and arrest, courtesy of Undocu-bus.

Four undocumented Arizonans risk arrest to demand justice.  A supportive crowd surrounds them, embodying the larger community they fight for.  Leticia (above, lower photo) is sitting with her daughter, from whom she may be separated as a result of her civil disobedience.

Police arrive to the protest.

Chela being arrested. The officer in the foreground is squinting from the sun, but  may betray a contemplative countenance, attempting to make sense of the laws he is obliged to enforce.

Natally, handcuffed, standing true to her principles, demonstrating a courage she hopes to impart upon her whole community.  Undocumented, unafraid.



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