Bios of the 12 Chicagoans Arrested Calling on the President to Stop Deportations
1. Stephanie Camba was born in Quezon City, Philippines in 1990. Her family left the Philippines for the Marshall Islands in groups, starting with her grandparents, older sister and aunt. In 1991, Stephanie and her mom joined her remaining family members in search of better economic opportunities. Stephanie’s family naturalized after 10 years in the Marshall Islands, but was unable to gain the full benefits of Marshallese citizenship because of the September 11 events, which precipitated their subsequent move to the U.S before the 5 year post naturalization requirement. The requirement was born from the Compact of Free Association (COFA), a treaty negotiated every decade that has offered limited promised benefits to the Marshallese population due to hardship from nuclear testing. On September 18, 2001 Stephanie and her family left for the U.S. on tourist B-1/B-2 visas due to restricted provisions like food and water in the Marshall Islands after September 11.
Stephanie participated in the Immigrant Youth Justice League’s Coming out the Shadows event on March 10, 2013 and has decided to this civil disobedience because she values all families. Stephanie shared, “just because my family is not experiencing deportation directly, I think is important to think about the families who don’t have safety of seeing their loved ones again.” She wishes that the current debate on immigration consider the push and pull factors that lead people to migrate, particularly the uneven economic opportunities across the world, many of which have been tied to U.S. foreign/economic policy. She believes that immigration is a complex narrative that cannot be encapsulated by terms like legal and illegal and is instead a “grey area that many of us live in, being in and out of status.”
2. Veronica Castro is the Immigration campaign director at National People’s Action (NPA), a network of metropolitan and statewide membership organizations dedicated to advancing economic and racial justice. Prior to joining NPA, Veronica spent five years at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, working on immigrant advocacy issues including Comprehensive Immigration Reform, the DREAM Act and efforts to end the separation of families due to deportations. She is passionate about working for social justice, particularly for and with immigrant communities and on issues affecting women of color. Veronica cites her family as the driving force of her work. “I wake up every day facing the reality that I can be separated from the people I love and instead of waiting for change, I have chosen to fight for it.”
3. Hugo Dominguez was born in Mexico City in 1989 and his family’s move to the United States began in 1998 when his mother made the difficult decision of risking her life by crossing the border in search of a job to help put food on the table for her three children. Hugo feels lucky that none of his immediate family has been deported and although he is happy because his father and younger brother are now legal residents of the United States, he fears that his mom and her husband will be in the wrong place at the wrong time and be put in deportation proceedings, leaving his two youngest siblings who are citizens of this country without a mother and/or a father.
Hugo believes that no family should have to ever go through the pain and fear of being separated from their loved ones for any reason and especially not as a result of their undocumented status in this country. He is currently attending Northeastern Illinois University and is majoring in Communications, media, and theater. He was skeptical about attending college because of his status but his father and older brother have always encouraged him to not give up and fight for his DREAMs.
4. Maria Gonzalez is an undocumented student currently studying sociology at the Illinois Institute of Technology where she co-founded the student organization Undocumented Students and Allies. She came to the United Stated at the age of eight along with her parents and siblings looking for an opportunity for a better life. Her parents’ sacrifice of leaving behind their country, family, and everything they knew inspired Maria to pursue a college education. After meeting a person who was currently undergoing deportation preceding and seeing the undocumented student movement that happened to stop the deportation, Maria realized how vulnerable undocumented people were and how powerful they could become if organized. Even though no one in her family has been put in deportation proceedings, she believes that, “We don’t need to wait for the separation and suffering of our own families to happen to take action on a problem that directly affects all of us. If all undocumented immigrants took action, these families wouldn’t be separated through cruel deportations and immigration reform would have happened long time ago.”
5. Miguel Martinez a.k.a. Caiden vel, was brought to the United States at the age of three by his mother from Mexico. He has one younger brother and is a guitarist who loves to make his own sound. For Miguel, his biggest accomplishment has been to be able to keep his head up. He does not fear being undocumented and doesn’t want to ever feel such a way. He does want to live in a community where everyone is afraid nor does he desire for want his mom living her life in a cage. Milguel has seen his entire family work extremely hard to stay together and remain healthy. By taking part in this action he hopes to bring attention to the strength and perseverance of his family members.
According to Miguel, his reasons of doing civil disobedience are, “Since I was a kid most of my family tried to take care of me and I’ve seen them work really hard. Now that I’m older, I would like to do something for them. My knowledge of the current immigration situation has also influence my decision of taking part of this action, knowing they might not qualify. My family wouldn’t have appropriate documentation of their work history and could likely be cut off out the current immigration bill. This would leave them at high risk of being deported. I feel that I can do something to speak about this experience my family is facing”.
6. Jocelyn Munguia is an undocumented organizer in DuPage County with the Latino Youth Action League. She endured a harrowing journey from Mexico City to the U.S. when she was only 11, and life stayed tough even after her family settled in Chicago’s western suburbs. She felt like an outsider in middle school, a minority of one.
Gradually, though, she became more comfortable, and by the time she entered Fenton High School in Bensenville she felt as though she belonged. Then she reached her senior year, and all at once, the limits of being undocumented in America became clear. Jocelyn participated in the first Coming Out of the Shadows in DuPage County last year.
7. Uriel Sánchez-Molina is an undocumented immigrant and student activist living in Chicago, IL. Born in 1991 and hailing from Puebla, Mexico, Uri has lived in Chicago for 20 years with three of his brothers and two parents. Shortly after graduating from Walter Payton College Prep in 2009, Uri became an active member and co-founder of the Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL.)
Since the Fall of 2009 to the present day Uri has been involved working alongside, as an organizer and member of IYJL, with community organizations, schools, community members, national organizations, and politicians, to push forward on policies and laws that support the immigrant community. This has included being a part of the first Coming Out Of The Shadows in 2010, arrested as a part of the DC 21 in Washington DC lobbying for the DREAM Act.
With hopes that after graduation of continuing with their education in the medical field and involvement in organizing for better accessibility to social programs, education, and health-care for all at the global level. Uri is participating believing that current federal rhetoric and current policy regarding queer & trans immigrants, health-care restrictions, and especially deportations of entire families at record levels are inhumane and intolerable. Saying, “I ask President Obama to issue with the powers given to him by the people, to issue an executive order stopping all deportations. The current system of deportation is flawed, with 1,100 people having their lives flipped turned upside down everyday. While rhetoric at the White House and Capitol Hill rages on, I ask the President to do the responsible thing and stop all deportations”.
8. Martin Unzueta is a long-time labor and immigrant rights organizer in Chicago. In 1994, Martin came to Chicago hoping to provide a better education for his undocumented daughters and to start his own small business. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the Chicago Community and Workers Rights (CCWR) organizing and defending the workers’ rights in the workplace.
Martin is participating in the civil disobedience because he wants an end to the deportation of the very same workers that have built this nation. It is cruel and unnecessary to deport immigrants that might eventually benefit from the recent immigration reform proposal. Why waste the money of tax-payers just to devastate children and their entire families? The deportations have to stop, not one more!
9. Nadia Sol Ireri Unzueta Carrasco has been living in Chicago, IL for 18 years, since coming to the US at the age of 7 in 1994 with her family. At the age of 25 Ireri works as a part time grant writer, amateur horticulturist, and with the Immigrant Youth Justice League, a chicago based undocumented youth led organization. “I am riding the bus because I refuse to keep on limiting myself by the unjust laws that refuse to see my humanity and recognize that undocumented immigrants are as much a part of the community as everyone else. ”
10. Tania Unzueta Carrasco is an undocumented queer activist born in Mexico City, who has lived in Chicago, IL since she was 10 years old. She is a co-founder and organizer with the Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL), and a nationally recognized leader in the undocumented and immigrant rights movements. Tania is also an accomplished media-maker. She worked, taught, and studied at a community radio station, WRTE 90.5-FM Chicago for nine years, creating socially-relevant radio programs and mentoring young journalists. Tania quit her job as Assistant General Manager of WRTE in 2010 to dedicate full time on immigrant rights and to attend graduate school. In 2010 she coordinated and participated in the first two civil disobediences by undocumented activists in Arizona and Washington DC, and has continued to be at the forefront of direct action led by undocumented immigrants. In 2012 she graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) with a masters in Latin American and Latino Studies. She currently coordinates IYJL’s Organized Communities Against Deportation program, conducting advocacy against deportations in Illinois.
11. Reyna Wences is a queer Chicago youth organizer, pro-immigrant rights activist and undocumented immigrant. She’s a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago majoring in gender and women’s studies and an active member of the Immigrant Youth Justice League ( IYJL ) , a Chicago-based grassroots organization led for and by undocumented youth and with support of allies. She has worked on campaigns to stop the deportation of students and organized civil disobedience to pressure Congress to pass the DREAM Act. At the recent Netroots conference in Minneapolis, Reyna was named one of the recipients of the Freedom from Fear Awards, which honors courageous individuals.
12. Stephanie Zavala is a junior at Dominican University with hopes of becoming a social worker to provide animal therapy for kids with autism. I am undocumented and am fighting for our rights as human beings. When I first started fighting for immigrant rights, I was focused on my goals and dreams. But today, I am fighting for something bigger than me. I am fighting for families and communities that are being torn apart everyday. Communities and families like mine that do not deserve the pain and the fear. My parents could be ripped away from me any day and I am not going to let that happen without a fight.