Weeks before the Obama administration’s immigration order to protect undocumented students is set to go into effect, a group of activists are launching a modern day “freedom ride” bus tour of the United States to highlight the ongoing civil rights struggles of undocumented people in America. The “UndocuBus,” which departed from Phoenix, AZ on Sunday, aims to protest officials who have targeted immigrant and Latino communities and the increased numbers of deportations and broken families at the hands of the federal government. Their destination is the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC.
Prior to the ride, many of the participants had chosen to hide their immigrant status. But, as a recent New York Times editorial noted, “weary of life in the shadows and frustrated by the lack of progress toward reform, [the riders] will be telling federal authorities and the local police: Here are our names. This is our plan. If you want us, come get us.”
Leticia Ramirez, one of the UndocBus riders, wrote in a Charlotte Observer op/ed:
When I first came here in 1994, families could go to the store or the park without looking over their shoulders. Now the parks in our neighborhoods have police cars just monitoring us…Everywhere we go now, we find harassment. It feels like everyone is looking and pointing at you just because you’re brown.
That environment is what drove me to get involved in my community. Now we’re teaching undocumented people that they have rights and we can come together to get our loved ones and neighbors out of immigration detention centers. In Arizona, we’ve learned that there’s no reason to be afraid when our community is united.”
In two weeks, DHS’s deferred action policy is slated to go into effect. The new order will grant DREAM-eligible youth the chance to apply for temporary reprieve from deportation and will allow them to apply for work permits after going through an application process. But this policy change only helps DREAMers, not their parents, family members, or other members of the 11 million unauthorized immigrants currently living in the U.S. The UndocuBus riders’ aim is to mobilize people across the country in support of comprehensive immigration reform.