Immigrant students arrested at McCain's office to be arraigned Tuesday; Chicago's Tania Unzueta not arrested

SECOND UPDATE: The undocumented students spent more than seven hours in detention and were released for noe. But they could face eventual deportation. They also have a court date for June 16 on the trespassing charges.

UPDATE 10 p.m.: The three undocumented students arrested after a sit-in at Sen. John McCain's Tucson office were being detained Tuesday night by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, reports Rigo Padilla, a Chicago student and activist in contact with the students.

"They have been in detention for over three hours in
extremely poor conditions," Padilla reported to me.

The Tucson police apparently did not turn the students over to immigration but immigration officials were present at their hearing and took them into custody, Padilla said.

Three undocumented youth and a permanent resident were arrested in Arizona after a sit-in at Sen. John McCain's Tucson office Monday.


But Chicago's Tania Unzueta (pictured here) was not one of those arrested. The group decided that Tania, who also is undocumented, should leave the sit-in to become a national spokesman and organizer for the students.

"I left five minutes before everybody else was arrested," Unzueta told me in a phone interview Tuesday morning.

The undocumented youth arrested were Lizbeth Mateo of Los Angeles, Mohammad Abdollahi of Ann Arbor, and Yahaira Carrillo of Kansas City. Also arrested was permanent resident Raul Alcaraz. You can see some of their stories on a Web site they've created called "The Dream is Coming."

The students arrested will be arraigned Tuesday morning. They didn't hide their undocumented status and Tania said police told them they would be referred to U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement.

They could remain in immigration detention or be released on bond. If arrested, Tania said she would not have been eligible for bond because she was given humanitarian parole in 2001 but that expired.

The students wearing caps and gowns sat in McCain's office for more than six hours to call attention to the DREAM Act. They want politicians like McCain, who has backpedaled on immigration, to come out and pledge new support for this legislation that would create a pathway to legalization for undocumented youth brought to the U.S. as minors and who complete two years of college or military service.

"We are not leaving until he co-sponsors the DREAM Act," Unzueta told me in a phone interview Monday evening shortly before her friends were arrested.

Tania said McCain's staff told them the senator would be willing to meet with the students and she hopes to take part in a future meeting.

But this action at McCain's office is just the first to target political leaders and students plan to organize others nationwide.

Unzueta said also expect youth to target the offices of Illinois politicians, including  Sen. Dick Durbin and Congressman Luis Gutierrez.

Unzueta acknowledged that they have been supportive of immigration reform but said that the students want to step up the pressure so there is movement on the DREAM Act before mid-June.

"After June there is little time for legislation to be passed," Unzueta said.

The youth who would benefit from the DREAM Act came to the United States as children, were educated in American schools, are bilingual and culturally American. Many grow up not even knowing they are undocumented but face future limitations when they try to go to college or find a job. As many as 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school in the United States each year.

Tania explained that the undocumented youth want to forge their own civil rights movement and this will include more acts of civil disobedience.

Tania said that she personally is inspired by activists like Harvey Milk. The idea for undocumented students to "come out" of the shadows was inspired by the gay rights movement.

She said they also are inspired by African-American students who were arrested for sitting down at lunch counters during the civil rights movement.

"We feel we need to be at the forefront of our movement," Unzueta said. "I'm tired of other people telling me what kind of risks I can take with my own life."

She said that while in McCain's office they openly told staffers and authorities they are undocumented.

"We are out and undocumented," she said. "Undocumented and unafraid."

Immigrant youth in Chicago will hold a press conference at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington Ave., to talk about the arrests at the DREAM Act.


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  • During this whole immigration fight, many of the statistics given are false. Ethic Soup has a great post on bigots' scare tactics opposing the truth, like the claim that immigrants bring more crime. Recent research shows how just the opposite is true -- that communities with the largest growth of immigrants have LESS CRIME, not more. The FBI says it's 35 percent less crime due to immigration. Thankfully some of the media are giving us the true facts. Check it out at:

  • Listening to this young lady tell us just what it is that we must bend over for her makes me absolutely sick!!! Sorry kid, it was your CRIMINAL PARENTS that put you in the position your in today. Now you think that you can just go right ahead and cause civil disobedience as you call it. Well little girl what I call it is you continuing the criminal behavior that you were taught by your parents all through your childhood and therefore it makes you ineligible to be apart of this society. You and all the others that are in your position must be arrested and deported. The fact that you have lived in this country for as many years as you have is by the negligence of our federal authorities and now that the citizens of this country are demanding that this Government do it's job of arresting and deporting the criminal aliens that live amongst us and that you are one of them is just to damn bad now isn't it little girl!!!

    What I would like to hear coming from all of these people that I paid to educate and in many cases put food in their mouths and supplied them with medical services is a THANK YOU Mr. and Mrs. American taxpayer as you are deported to what ever country your parents left when they came into this country illegally and stayed for all these years. Now take all this knowledge that you were taught and go to the country that for instance so many of you high school kids were waving flags for and demeaning the American flag on May 5Th of this past year and protest in the streets of those countries. You are educated by the American taxpayer now use that knowledge by making your home country a better place to live, for yourself and future generations so that you can stop breaking into my country illegally. I and so many of my fellow Americans do not want to support you people any longer. So just do us all a great big favor and pack up your criminal enterprise, that being your entire family and go home!!!

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