The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 76/No. 33      September 10, 2012

‘Undocumented and unafraid,’
immigrant youth line up across US
(front page)
LOS ANGELES—“Undocumented and unafraid” chanted nearly 100 youth as they marched around the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex here Aug. 25. They had just attended a forum on how to apply for “deferred action” status that would allow them to stay in the U.S. for two years without facing deportation and obtain work permits.

Many had camped out overnight with their family members. By morning more than 500 were in line to attend one in a series of hourly forums and to get help in completing the paperwork.

An estimated 1.7 million youth under age 31 are eligible, if they came to the U.S. before they were 16 years old and are in school, are high school graduates or veterans of the U.S military, and have no felonies or serious misdemeanors. They are being given one opportunity to submit an application.

“This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship,” President Barack Obama said when he announced in June the executive order for allowing the deferrals. “This is a temporary, stopgap measure.”

“It makes me proud to see so many of my friends here,” said volunteer Adriana Arredondo, 16, a senior at Miguel Contreras High School. Most of the school’s seniors took shifts as volunteer organizers, answering questions, keeping the line running smoothly and staffing informational tables.

“I started marching for legalization when I was young,” said Perla Ponce, 17, another student volunteer. “Those marches were amazing. But this is historic too. We’re still out here going for what we need.”

“A piece of paper is used to divide us, to exploit us,” said Nancy Padillo, 17.

“Why stop at two years? Make it forever,” said her classmate, Andy Flores.

According to updated guidelines, young workers who enroll in school by the date of their application will also be considered.

“We are here to live, but it’s hard without papers. This will make it a little easier for us to survive,” said Antonio Maldonado, a spa attendant.

“The most profound thing about this opportunity is unity,” said Rafael Moya, a construction worker born in El Salvador.

Christian Torres, 25, a chef and member of UNITE HERE Local 11, was among the main presenters at the community forums. The former Pomona College dining hall worker was one of 17 fired from his job in December 2011 after the university conducted an immigration audit on the heels of a union-organizing drive that won broad support among students.

The forums were sponsored by Dream Team L.A., Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, California Dream Network, United We Dream and others. Other community forums are being planned for September.

As a result of the new federal policy, the California Department of Motor Vehicles is now discussing issuing driver’s licenses to 400,000 immigrants.
Related articles:
Communist League candidate in Australia defends asylum-seekers
Australian gov’t reopens offshore detention camps
UndocuBus tours South for ‘Jobs, justice, dignity’
Legalize undocumented workers!  
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