UPDATE: Vigil for arrested immigrants; no statement from McCain - Tucson News Now

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UPDATE: Vigil for arrested immigrants; no statement from McCain

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By J.D. Wallace - bio | email

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD) – A candle light vigil outside Pima County Jail Monday night showed support for four people inside.

"Every day we live with this fear of what's going to happen the next day," said Tania Unzueta, an undocumented immigrant at the vigil who came from Los Angeles and is originally from Mexico.  She was one of four undocumented demonstrators and one legal permanent resident who made a stand for the DREAM Act by sitting in Senator John McCain's office earlier that day.

"We're not going to move, we're not going to move until Senator McCain cosponsors the Dream Act, so whatever it takes, we're going to stay here," said Lizbeth Mateo, also an undocumented immigrant from Los Angeles and originally from Mexico, as she sat in the senator's Tucson office.

"And so we're here, knowing that he will support the DREAM Act, knowing that he has supported it in the past, ask him to step up and cosponsor the DREAM Act and so we're waiting at the office until he cosponsors the DREAM Act and writes us a written statement," Mohammad Abdollahi said in the office.  He was also an undocumented immigrant. He came from Ann Arbor, Michigan, but was originally from Iran.

They were joined by Yahaira Carrillo, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who came to the event from Kansas City, and Raul Alcaraz, a legal permanent resident who lives in Tucson.

They said that the DREAM Act would provide a path to citizenship for people who have been in the country since the age of sixteen, graduated from a U.S. high school, and spent two years either in college or the military.

"The youth are an important first step in immigration reform.  They kind of set the standard for what immigration reform should look like," said DREAM Act supporter Flavia de la Fuente outside the office that day.  But after the building closed, four of the protestors, Mateo, Abdollahi, Carrillo, and Alcaraz, were arrested.

"Exercise a discretion to bring them out, to bring them into custody in the quickest way possible so that we can diffuse any other possible problems that might occur at the scene," Tucson Police assistant chief Brett Klein explained about the arrest.

"I see them as de facto American citizens.  They came at a time when we invited their parents to come and be part of a workforce," said Margot Cowan, a Pima County public defender who provided volunteer legal representation to the students.

Charged with trespassing, the undocumented students will be reported by Tucson Police to Immigration Customs Enforcement and could face an immigration judge for years after they request a hearing.  Alcaraz will likely be released.  Unzueta, who avoided arrest because she could have the weakest case, said that she plans to stay an advocate. 

"I feel like if my friends are able to risk arrest and willing to put themselves in deportation proceedings, I can at least be outspoken about my situation and the situation that other undocumented students are facing," she said.

As of Monday night, McCain's office did not have an official response to the protest.

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