FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 3, 2010
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Immigrant Students Call Georgia Sheriff’s Bluff
‘Trail of DREAMs’ walkers made bold statement as they risked arrest in attempt to meet with Gwinnett County Sheriff Conway who is known to have jailed and deported hundreds of immigrants in recent months
LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Today, four immigrant students who are walking 1,500 miles from Miami, FL to Washington, D.C. heroically faced Gwinnett County Sheriff R.L. “Butch” Conway, a vocal proponent of “287(G)” and other enforcement policies that have resulted in the deportation of hundreds of immigrants, to share their views about the need to fix the country’s failed immigration system. Representatives of various groups, including the GLAHR, SPLC lawyers, Amnesty International and the U.S. Human Rights Network accompanied the young walkers in their brave action to confront Sheriff Conway.
“We tried to meet with the Sheriff so that we could tell our stories, the story of immigrants who work hard,” expressed one of the immigrant walkers Gaby Pacheco, 25, to a Representative of Sheriff Conway. “We are undocumented ourselves. 287g agreements criminalize people like us. I wanted to show Sheriff Conway that I was not afraid to be arrested and possibly deported under 287g simply because I had a broken light on the car I was driving. We wanted to show how Sheriffs like Conway and unjust laws like 287(G) cause our community to be afraid to call the police. You swore on the bible to uphold the law and protect the people and for you to do this hurts us,” continued Pacheco.
Wearing a shirt that read “We are undocumented,” the 23 year old walker Felipe Matos stated, “Sometimes we see numbers and we forget the faces. In this country...people are scared of their sheriffs. Our message is...all of us should take charge of our own lives. Each one of us- documented and undocumented - has an obligation to ourselves to talk about those unjust laws that criminalize us and make us feel like less than a human being.”
Ajamu Baraka, Executive Director of the U.S. Human Rights Network, stated “more than 55 years ago Rosa Parks stood up for justice. Young people were the backbone of that movement. We see the opening chapter of a new struggle, a struggle led by young people. These young people went inside the Sheriff’s office and said they will not live in fear.”
The young immigrant walkers are inspiring thousands of young people across the nation, and will continue to inspire thousands more as they continue their journey to Washington, DC, crossing into North Carolina in the coming days. For more information please visit www.trail2010.org