Student protesters won’t be deported
Five undocumented students arrested during a protest Monday at the Indiana Statehouse will not face deportation.
While their cause has been met by increasing support, others are angered that immigration laws are seemingly being ignored.
Several dozen supporters greeted the student protesters with applause and chants outside Marion Superior Court’s community court on Virginia Avenue near Fountain Square on Wednesday, as they left a court hearing where they faced several misdemeanor charges. That hearing was continued to June 14.
"They’re standing up for something they really believe in, and … that’s great and so honorable and should be celebrated," said Jessica Rizzi, 20, an Indiana University student who’s friends with two of the students and traveled to Indianapolis from Bloomington to support them.
The five students who are illegal immigrants — Uriel and Erick Gama, 20; Ana Ruiz-Tovar, 23; Guadalupe Pimentel, 18; and Sayra Perez, 19 — face misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass and disorderly conduct after they were detained Monday at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
A sixth student, Idamarie Collazo, faces misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass and resisting law enforcement. She is not suspected of being an undocumented immigrant and was not detained by ICE.
Attorney Marc Lopez, who’s representing the students, said the agency’s decision not to deport is good news for his clients, who had been held in the Marion County Jail pending ICE’s investigation. They were all released by Wednesday morning, after ICE lifted detention orders.
"Every single time when someone’s not in jail, I’m happy," Lopez said.
However, supporters of stricter immigration laws weren’t satisfied with ICE’s decision not to deport the students.
State Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, said Wednesday that ICE has “a duty and an obligation” to enforce immigration laws and go after undocumented immigrants.
"When you allow lawbreakers to operate with impunity, without any kind of consequence, you just encourage more (illegal activity)," he said.
The students were arrested Monday afternoon as they protested Senate Bill 590, which would penalize businesses for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants, and House Bill 1402, which would deny undocumented students lower in-state tuition fees.
Gov. Mitch Daniels signed both bills into law Tuesday, the day after the protest and arrests.
ICE issued a statement Wednesday, saying that the agency’s first priority is deporting “serious criminal aliens who present the greatest risk to the security of our communities.”
"Based on these priorities, ICE determined that pursuing removal proceedings against these individuals was not the best use of the agency’s resources," the statement said.
Several of the students said Wednesday that they hope their story, which has gained national attention, will inspire changes in immigration laws in Indiana and elsewhere.