Nationally-known Arizona DREAM Activist Erika Andiola has reported that her mother and brother were arrested last night at their home by agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Above is Andiola's tearful recounting of the raid on her dwelling.
See also: -DREAM Activist Erika Andiola Says Mom Was Racially-Profiled, Mesa PD Denies Claim So far, ICE has not responded to my request for a comment.
There is an update from a friend of Erika's on her Facebook page, which states that, "a few minutes ago ICE confirmed removal has been stayed and the agency is reexamining the case."
This may refer to Andiola's mother. In a release announcing a telephonic press conference with Andiola in about an hour, the organization United We Dream had this to say:
"Late last night, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided the home of of Arizona DREAM leader Erika Andiola and detained her mother, Maria Arreola, and her brother, Heriberto Andiola Arreola. Although Heriberto has been released from detention, Erika's mother faces deportation at any moment. Erika and her family are leaders within the immigrants' rights community, and ICE's action has shocked DREAMers and their family members across the country."
Indeed, Andiola is the co-founder of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition, and the recipient of many awards for her heroic activism. Her story was actually read into the Congressional Record in July by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin.
This is what Durbin had to say about Andiola, the 50th such story he's told on the Senate floor about DREAMers:
"Since that vote in December of 2010, I have come to the floor of the Senate to tell the DREAMers' stories. I think it is the best way for people to understand the DREAM Act. Today, I wish to tell my colleagues about another DREAMer. Her name is Erika Andiola. Erika was brought to America from Mexico when she was 11 years old. She grew up in Arizona and enrolled at Arizona State University.
"But then Arizona passed a new law prohibiting public universities from giving financial aid or instate tuition rates to undocumented students. Hundreds of students were forced to drop out of school. Erika persevered. She graduated with honors from Arizona State with a bachelor's degree in psychology. She has been very active in advocating for immigrants and the DREAM Act. She is the founding president of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition. Her dream is to be a school counselor."
In September, Andiola's mom was arrested, cited and released by the Mesa Police Department, allegedly for speeding, though Andiola believes that her mom was racially profiled. There was no ICE hold placed on her mom at that time.
"`She's clean with ICE, she can go,'" Andiola said a Mesa cop told her afterward. "I'm guessing it's because she's had her [immigration] application approved, but she's still waiting for the actual residency. It's going to be about three years [before she gets that]."
I'll participate in the telephonic press conference and update this post at that time. I'll do the same if ICE gets back to me.
UPDATE 9:40 A.M.
ICE spokeswoman Amber Cargile just e-mailed me the following statement,
"One of two individuals detained by ICE in Phoenix, AZ has been released. The other individual will be released imminently. Although one individual had been previously removed from the country, an initial review of these cases revealed that certain factors outlined in ICE's prosecutorial discretion policy appear to be present and merit an exercise of discretion. A fuller review of the cases is currently on-going. ICE exercises prosecutorial discretion on a case-by-case basis, considering the totality of the circumstances in an individual case."
UPDATE 11:17 AM:
I just got off the conference call, and apparently ICE is cutting Andiola's mom loose. Andiola told reporters that ICE informed her there's an order of removal outstanding for her mom, which means ICE could expedite her removal; i.e., kick her out of the country at any time.
ICE gave Andiola conflicting information, when she showed up at ICE offices in Phoenix last night looking for her mom. ICE officers also told her that her mother was being sent to Florence, and would be "deported immediately."
That didn't happen because of the national outrage over the incident, and all the inquiries from the press, Congressional staffers and ordinary citizens.
What puzzles me is why, when ICE and its parent agency, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, constantly are telling the public that they are focusing their immigration resources on "high priority" criminals, would they raid the house of a frequent critic, and take away her mom and brother?
I mean, talk about a boneheaded PR move.
ICE certainly knows who Andiola is, and should have anticipated the black eye over this blatant hypocrisy. Indeed, Andiola suggested that this move might have been pure retaliation.
"They had a whole profile of me, with pictures," Andiola said her brother told her, when he was released. "[ICE agents] told my brother, `We know about your sister, we know what she does, and you need to stay away from that.'"
She also found it odd that when the ICE agents came to her door, they took her mother without asking Erika or her little brother about their immigration status.
But they asked her other brother, who just happened to be standing outside, for his ID. When he replied that he didn't have any on him, they asked if he was undocumented, and he clammed up. So they arrested him as well.
Frank Sharry of the pro-immigrant advocacy group America's Voice says that this incident is an illustration of how ICE's so-called "prosecutorial discretion" policy has been left up to the ICE agents themselves.
"The reason prosecutorial discretion has failed so miserably is because it's been left in the hands of these same agents," he explained. "We're really talking about a law enforcement agency that deserves much more scrutiny, much more oversight and much more accountability.
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"They've been given a free reign...They come in, oftentimes with guns pointed, no warrant, and arrest whoever they think may be undocumented. That's happening on a daily basis in America with a federal law enforcement agency that...operates with virtual impunity."
I can tell you from dealing with its flacks that ICE is very concerned about changing its image. But many of its agents still follow a "round 'em up, and deport 'em all" policy, despite the Obama administration's commitment to immigration reform, and despite ICE's repeated assurances that ICE is concentrating on the really bad guys.
What these ICE agents did yesterday is far worse than anything Maria Arreola has ever done in her entire life. If you ask me, it's time to start laying off or firing ICE agents, beginning with the knuckledragging goons who participated in this raid.
UPDATE 5:30 P.M.: Erika and mom were reunited at a rally in Phoenix with press and supporters. Her mom said her bus was on the way to the border when the driver got a call and turned that baby around.