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Immigration protests lead to arrests

David Ramirez speaking to the press about the decision that he and the activists made to come out of the shadows and declare themselves “undocumented and unafraid” knowing they were likely to be arrested and face deportation. Credit: Photo courtesy of the Immigrant Youth Justice League

Dominican student jailed for demanding higher learning access

By: Kaitlin Kimont, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Dominican student David Ramirez, 21, along with six other students from different universities around the U.S., were arrested on April 5 as a part of a widespread demonstration at the state capitol in Atlanta, Georgia protesting their lack of access to college and the lack of support for the DREAM Act in Congress.

“Knowing about this has given me a choice,” David Ramirez said in a statement to the Immigrant Youth Justice League before leaving for the protest. “I can ignore the ban and stay on this path of relative security, or I can join others to confront it. The outcome of bans will set a precedent for how undocumented youths are treated in other states.”

Ramirez, Georgina Perez, Viridiana Martinez, Jose Rico, Dayanna Rebolledo, Andrea Rosales and Maria Marroquin publicly declared their undocumented status by delivering a letter to Georgia State University President asking him to not comply with the recent Georgia Board of Regents ban of undocumented youth from the top five public universities.

“President Becker responded by shutting the admissions office door in their face,” according to TheDreamIsComing.com.

The police arrested the seven after an hour of blocking traffic in a symbolic effort to raise awareness about the controversial immigration issue.

Upon entry into the jail two Immigration and Customs and Enforcement agents (ICE) interviewed them.

“As soon as we got here they came in, asked us personal questions like where we were born and our birthdays. We were honest with them; we told them we were undocumented,” according to TheDreamIsComing.com in a joint statement from the arrested students.

All seven were released without an ICE hold without reason, a process that usually taken when illegal immigrants are stopped for traffic violations.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia sent a letter on April 12 to the Georgia Board of Regents calling for the repeal of this discriminatory policy. The letter asks them to reject the policy for many reasons rooted in principles of fundamental fairness and economic considerations for the state.

The letter requests, “that the Georgia Board of Regents continue to allow undocumented students access to higher education at Georgia institutions of their choosing and not require university officials to employ any additional methods to check the status of students beyond what is currently utilized.”

“I know that a big reason as towhyIwasabletofindaway into college is because I live in a state that is relatively accepting of immigrants,” Ramirez said in a video on TheDreamIsComing. com. “But even so, I remember how difficult it was for me to get into school, and today where the climate towards immigrants is as volatile as it is, I’m grateful forbeing able to finish my degree.”

Ramirez is back at Dominican continuing his studies. He and the members of the The Dream Is Coming project plan to continue to organize and empower other undocumented youth to take action as the DREAM Act comes to a vote soon.

“Undocumented youth are still being targeted so we need to be aware and work for change,” Rafael Jimenez, friend of Ramirez, said.

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