Undocumented ASU Graduate Erika Andiola Receives Freedom From Fear Award for Confronting Russell Peace, Organizing for DREAM Act

Undocumented Arizona State University graduate Erika Andiola won the Freedom from Fear Award this morning, a national prize given to immigration activists by Public Interest Projects.

Andiola won for advocacy on behalf of the DREAM Act, as well as for her confrontations with legislators such as Senate President Russell Pearce and U.S. Senator John McCain.

Her scholarship to ASU was taken from her when the Pearce-sponsored Proposition 300 went into effect in 2006, making it illegal to give public scholarships to undocumented students and charging them out-of-state tuition. But she was able to graduate with the help of private scholarships.

See video of Andiola challenging Pearce on immigration law and the award's citation after the jump.

The organization's citation for her award -- $5000 in prize money -- reads as follows:

She got involved with Promise Arizona, a grassroots civic engagement organization with a mission to recruit, train and support a new generation of leaders from across the state and register Latinos to vote. She also dedicated herself to championing the DREAM Act . She spent countless hours camped in front of Senator John McCain's Phoenix office in the summer heat with the "DREAM Army," supporters who worked tirelessly to educate elected officials on the Act. She knew she might be arrested, and eventually she was.

On video, Andiola also confronted Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, a national figure behind anti-immigration legislation. Russell was clearly not happy about being surprised. He could have called security and demanded an arrest on the spot. Arrest is frightening for anyone, but as Andiola knows personally, arrest with the possibility of deportation is life-altering, especially for someone so young. Andiola's single-minded dedication to social justice comes before her personal gain.

Andiola is fearless and articulate on camera, especially when she was interviewed by ABC's Diane Sawyer and appeared in several You Tube videos. Seen on television in front of McCain's office, Andiola is visibly exhausted. She had been driving hard for months, flying to DC, working for Promise Arizona, protesting for the Dream Army, motivating people to vote, attending vigils and then hitting the barrios on foot again and again in an effort to register every last eligible voter.

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Gregory Pratt
Contact: Gregory Pratt