10 Undocumented No Papers No Fear Riders Arrested for Defending Civil Rights, Supporters Call on President and ICE to Be on the Right Side of History, Use Discretion and Do Not Pursue Deportation of Community Leaders
September 04, 2012
Charlotte, NC Today 10 No Papers No Fear Riders were arrested in civil disobedience defending the civil rights of the migrant community at the entryway to the Democratic National Convention. After a short march, they placed a banner reading "No Papers No Fear" at the entrance of a checkpoint to the convention where they were arrested by Charlotte police. Due to the federal deportation program 287(g) that conscripts local police into immigration enforcement, their arrest could lead to their deportation if the administration does not honor its stated policy of discretion.
In a statement the group made online, they explain, "We came out because we are tired of the mistreatment. We are tired of waiting for change and we know that it never comes without risk or without sacrifice.
We know what is at stake in our actions. We know that the Republicans have decided to completely turn their back on our communities. We also know that President Obama's legacy on immigration is undecided.
We want him to be on the right side of history. And we know that it is the effort of our organized communities that will make that happen. We want him to be remembered as the one who found the way to include the millions struggling for a better life in this country, not to be remembered as the President who deported more people than anyone else in the history of the country.
We want President Obama to use his executive authority to provide relief from our entire community, students, parents, and all of us."
Biographies of the Riders are Below
Kitzia Esteva was born in Mexico D.F. and came to California nine and a half years ago to reunite with her family. Her mom, sister and two nephews came two years before seeking treatment for her nephew diagnosed with leukemia. She is now 25 and living in Los Angeles, California. She remembers being stopped by the police one for not wearing a seatbelt, and fearing that she would be identified as an undocumented immigrant if fingerprinted. For her, being undocumented has meant not being able to work legally to help her family, losing work opportunities, being employed as a domestic worker, and being afraid to be separated from her family. Her mother, who is also on the bus, has helped her be active in social justice struggles by setting an example. As Kitzia got involved in community organizations she began to learn that what she had experienced as undocumented was happening to many, and that there is power in organizing. Kitzia is on the bus for her family, and “because it is a powerful way to confront the way immigrants are treated and change the conversation of criminalization towards one of dignity.”
Rosi Carrasco has made a home for her family in Chicago IL for the past 18 years. She came to the US to reunite her two daughters with her husband, who had taken a job in Chicago. In Mexico, Rosi workers doing education research and planning. Now she works organizing the Latino community to fight for their rights. She has seen all the obstacles her daughters have overcome to finish their studies in this country due to their immigration status, and supports their struggles and decisions as best as she can. “I think it’s important to show solidarity with the struggle the youth have done for access to education, and show solidarity with the workers fighting for their right to jobs with dignity. I believe we should keep organizing our communities, even in an electoral year”
In 1994 Martin Unzueta was offered a job in Chicago IL. He thought in this country there would be better educational opportunities for his children. In Mexico Martin had a small company that made books and paper. The company was not doing so well, it was hard to compete with bigger companies and government officials’ corruption hindered the business’ functions; It became harder to sustain his family. In Chicago, Martin is the executive director of a non for profit organization that helps to organize and defend workers rights in their workplace. He is on the bus because “I want other communities to hear our stories of how we have helped to organize and support workers in Chicago, and the necessity for each community to protect the rights we have at work. We need to learn to use the tools we do have to defend these rights.”
Yovani Diaz Tolentino came to the US when he was 5 months old with his mother, looking for better financial opportunities, a better job and life. Now 20 years old, Yovani has lived in Roswell, Georgia for 12 years. He cleans houses and works with the Georgia Undocumented Youth Alliance (GUYA), an undocumented youth led organization that support the undocumented community in Georgia. He is on the bus “to change the perspective of voters and fight for justice, helping to obtain an immigration reform that benefits America as a whole, including undocumented people.”
Gerardo Torres is a self-employed handyman and community health promoter who has lived in Phoenix, AZ for the last 18 years, after staying after the time limit of a tourist visa. He is a member of the Puente Human Rights Movement and 3rdSpace, a group of queer brown migrants working to make their community visible. “I want people to know that the queer undocumented community is also affected by these laws. I want people in my communities to let go of their fear and to learn how to defend their human rights. It is a time for a change in the immigration laws: the status quo is not an option anymore. We have to move because we are in crisis, what is happening is not working anymore.
Maria Cruz Ramirez arrived in Phoenix, AZ with her three children just a few months before September 11, 2001 to be with her husband. She worked as a stylist in our own salon in Hidalgo, Mexico, and had hoped to have better opportunities for work in the U.S. She has been unable to find work for the last eleven years because she is undocumented. Two of her three children participated in a coming out of the shadows civil disobedience in Phoenix in March. She has been a member of the Arizona Dream Guardians, a group of parents of DREAM Act-eligible youth who fundraised for their children’s educations, and she hopes to start a new parents’ group in the future that is a community defense committee and a way to increase their children’s education opportunities. She says, “Me and my children, we give each other strength, and we struggle together. I’m going on the bus because I want a life with dignity and a just job for myself, for my family, and for my people. I fight for those who come after me.”
Eleazar Castellanos has lived in Tucson, AZ since 1996. He studied computer programming and technical analysis in Nogales, Sonora, and moved to the U.S. when he completed his studies in order to have more economic opportunities for himself and his now-adult daughter. He works as a day laborer, and has watched his wages fall dramatically as the economic crisis and anti-immigrant climate in Arizona worsen. He watches people in his community be racially profiled by Border Patrol every day, and so, for the last year, he has been a member of a group of day laborers in Tucson organizing to fight for their rights. He says, “I am going on the bus to come out of the shadows, to make the President hear our community’s voice, and so that we can move forward and make all of our lives better. We all deserve jobs with justice and dignity.”
Julio Cesar Sanchez lives in Chicago, IL and has been living in the U.S. for nine years. He came to the U.S. at the age of 15 with his mother after his parents’ divorce, despite a difficult border crossing. His mother sought to reunite with her family here and get away from a domestic violence situation. He faced discrimination and bullying when he first arrived in Texas at school, and, while living in Florida, was put in jail for driving without a license. These experiences made him decide to take action for his community. He now organizes with the immigrant community in Chicago teaching people their rights. He says, “I’m riding the Undocubus to show myself, my family, and everyone else that is dealing with the same struggle I am that we can make a change. I believe it is time to end our fear.”
Gloria Esteva was born in Oaxaca, Mexico. While she was there she was already working with her community, specifically defending worker’s rights. She came to the United States to support her grandson, who became sick with leukemia after a petroleum leak in his native state of Veracruz. She moved with him to San Francisco, where she spent the next four years taking care of him and writing about his life. She considers herself a community organizer who tries to talk to people in ways and language that they understand. She says that as she has gotten to know the people of the United States, she has realized that there are many who believe in justice, and that them and everyone in the country should think about the contributions that immigrants have made to their personal lives, and realize that “we deserve dignity and respect.” She is on the bus with her daughter because she is tired of living in the shadows, and wants her community to know that she organizes and lives without fear despite not having immigration documents.
N. Sol Ireri Unzueta Carrasco has been living in Chicago, IL for 18 years, since coming to the US at the age of 7 in 1994 with her family. At the age of 25 Ireri works as a part time grant writer, amateur horticulturist, and with the Immigrant Youth Justice League, a chicago based undocumented youth led organization. “I am riding the bus because I refuse to keep on limiting myself by the unjust laws that refuse to see my humanity and recognize that undocumented immigrants are as much a part of the community as everyone else. ”