On Thursday evening, Tania Unzueta reported that 10 of the 12 arrested in Alabama were out of jail and were not detained by immigration officials. They expect the last two protesters to be released later Thursday evening. A minor, the 13th protester, was released after the initial arrest.
On Thursday morning, Tania Unzueta said they plan to post $500 bail for those arrested in Alabama, including her father. They hope they will be released some time Thursday, she said.
On Wednesday evening, ICE spokesman, Temple H. Black, sent me the following comment via email:
“ICE has not lodged detainers at this time. ICE will follow routine procedures to determine if anyone in the group is subject to removal and assess where they lie on the list of ICE Civil Enforcement Priorities.”
Alabama has become the focal point in the national immigration debate and immigrant activists from around the country travelled there to protest at the state capitol on Tuesday.
A Chicago man, Martin Unzueta was among 13 undocumented immigrants arrested in Montgomery. He is the father of one of the DREAM activists and leaders of the Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL), Tania Unzueta, also of Chicago.
Mr. Unzueta is believed to be the first parent of a local Dreamer to be arrested for an act of civil disobedience. Three other parents from other states also were arrested.
Mr. Unzueta, 55, was still in jail as of Wednesday morning. Since he also is undocumented, he could face deportation.
“The police who arrested them said they would check their immigration status and if they are undocumented they would be turned over to ICE (Immigrations Customs and Enforcement),” said Tania Unzueta, who spoke with me by phone from Alabama, where she is waiting for news of her father.
Activists are confronting Alabama’s law that allows police to check the immigration status of those arrested.
“Is the government actually going to deport my dad?” asked Unzueta.
An ICE spokesman for Alabama on Wednesday morning said he had not yet heard about the arrests.
Youth activists are no longer just focusing on the DREAM Act, which has stalled in the U.S. Congress. They are protesting against state laws like Alabama’s as well as against the Secure Communities policy of the Obama Administration that has led to increased deportations. Six undocumented youth activists were arrested in August in Chicago and they have a court date in December.
“We’re using direct action as a tool to change anti-immigrant legislation (and policy),” said Rigo Padilla, also a leader with IYJL in Chicago.
The activists want to send a message to undocumented immigrants in the Alabama that they should not be afraid. Some immigrant families have left the state. Those who have stayed behind live with fear of driving and sending their children to school.
“If you come out as undocumented and you organize, you have power,” said Tania Unzueta, who also has committed civil disobedience.
Tania Unzueta, 27, was arrested in Arizona last year protesting at the office of Sen. John McCain. Her sister, Ireri, 24, also was arrested for civil disobedience in Washington D.C. last year and in Chicago this year.
In Chicago, there was a press conference Wednesday in support of Mr. Unzueta and those arrested in Alabama. Mr. Unzueta sent a letter to be read upon his behalf.
“I’m risking deportation because I’m tired of seeing the suffering of our children,” Mr Unzueta wrote.
Padilla said in a phone interview that immigrants in Illinois and across the nation want to show support for the people in Alabama.
“There was an attack on Alabama,” Padilla said. “We see it as an attack on all of us.”
*This post contains updated information.