No Papers No Fear Riders Eligible for Deferred Action to File Applications, Continue Ride for Entire Community Deserving of Relief, Focus on Power of Organizing
August 15, 2012
Memphis, TN – Nine undocumented participants of the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice traveling across the southern United States are in the process of gathering the required information to apply for deferred action, the initiative by the Obama administration offering relief from deportation and temporary work permits. Their applications are being supported by attorneys at the Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), an organization which is also launching DREAMerJustice.org, a website designed to increase access to legal resources for low-income people nationally. The website will be available August 15, 2012, the same day U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is scheduled to begin accepting applications.
Those who qualify for deferred action have been on the bus ride not only for themselves, but also for their communities.
“I know that it will be a relief to be able to work legally and have a driver’s license, but it is temporary. I also think about my sisters, cousins, my mom and my dad who still have no rights in this country. That is why I’m on the bus, and why I will continue to work for just and permanent solutions,” said Nataly Cruz, 22, from Phoenix Arizona and an organizer with Puente Movement. Cruz has already gathered most of her required documents in preparation for her participation of a civil disobedience in front of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s racial profiling trial on July 24th, 2012. She and three other undocumented Arizonans were arrested and charged with a misdemeanor and are awaiting their trial.
Ireri Unzueta Carrasco, 25, is a No Papers No Fear riders and an organizer with the Chicago-based Immigrant Youth Justice League who has been coordinating the collaboration with NIJC, who says that she is applying for deferred action because she trusts in the power of community. “Homeland Security has shown us that they don’t always implement their policies. For example, they are still deporting low-priority immigrants despite the prosecutorial discretion policies, and there will continue to be 400,000 deportations per year. I don’t trust the Department of Homeland Security or the federal government. What I do trust is the power of an organized undocumented community and our allies to keep the government accountable.”
"The National Immigrant Justice Center is proud to support these courageous activists by ensuring they have access to legal counsel so they can protect their rights and the rights of their families during the deferred action application process. Through our expanded services, including DREAMerJustice.org, we will reach thousands of youth across the country in the coming weeks. We encourage DREAMers to discuss their cases with qualified attorneys or legal aid organizations before submitting their applications," said NIJC’s legal director, Mony Ruiz-Velasco.
Those on the bus who do not qualify for the deferred action initiative who are on the bus support the relief that young people are getting, but will continue pushing more. Mari Cruz Jimemez, a No Papers No Fear Rider from Arizona whose children will be applying for the initiative says that she feels both hope and uncertainty, “It’s a light at the end of the tunnel for my children, a first step which came as a result of actions taken by young people. I know that at least temporarily my children will be okay, but it is still separation of families. What will they do if their mother or father gets deported? How will they live without their family’s support? The president has shown us that he has power to address deportations, and he needs to do that for all of us.”
Inspired by actions of undocumented students, such as coming out of the shadows events and civil disobedience actions, that have demonstrated the power and results of communities acting and speaking for themselves, the riders are undocumented people from all over the country and their allies, including mothers, fathers, day laborers, people in deportation proceedings, students, and many others who continue to face threats of deportation, harassment, and death while simply looking for a better life in the only nation many of them know and call home.
Heartland Alliance's National Immigrant Justice Center is a Chicago-based nongovernmental organization dedicated to ensuring human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers through a unique combination of direct services, policy reform, impact litigation and public education. For more information visit www.immigrantjustice.org.