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Migrant ‘Dreamers’ Seek To Enter US At San Diego Border

March 11, 2014 1:34 p.m.


Lilia Velasquez, San Diego attorney, specializing in immigration

Liliana Luna, Organizer with National Immigration Youth Alliance NIYA

Jill Replogle, KPBS Border Reporter

Related Story: Migrant ‘Dreamers’ Seek To Enter US At San Diego Border


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition, I am Maureen Cavanaugh. Mothers, daughters, sons, and fathers gathered yesterday at the Otay Mesa border crossing in a process protest is an ongoing moment movement to reunite families affected by immigration policies. The dreamers were a big part of the protest as well as young people who would have qualified for the program but were deported or that the US report went into effect, this demonstration and other protests around the country I reflected in increasing frustration with efforts towards reform of US immigration policies. I would like to walk my guess is, Lilia Velasquez , Jill and Lily Anna Luna. Welcome, thank you for joining us. Jill was at the devastation yesterday and she filed this report.


JILL REPLOGLE: He says he cannot afford to go on to college without access to financial aid so he left for Mexico in May 2012 to try to start a new life there but he and others here with a similar background say they are picked on because they speak English and in his case because he is gay.

NEW SPEAKER: I've been bullied into the White House.

JILL REPLOGLE: Now he and others like him are trying to get back to the US, their plan is to ask immigration officers to allow the men on emergency parole or on assignment this is the third action organized by views align this alliance to previous groups of young people who use of similar tactics to try to enter the US in Arizona and Texas and they had some success and in both cases most were allowed to enter the US and seek asylum before an immigration judge. Many family members and supporters cheered on the group from both sides of the border, twenty-two-year-old Jocelyn Rodriguez and her eleven-year-old sister traveled here to the mesa California from Northern: Caroline and their dad was deported from the US about three years ago is now trying to get back. Organizers say that more than 100 others that have either been deported from the US or left on their own back to Mexico will try to cross back into the US in the next few days, the fate of Monday's group is still unknown.


MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How many people were taken into detention after the demonstration yesterday at Otay Mesa?

JILL REPLOGLE: I believe there are about thirty-five.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Do we know what happened to those protesters?

JILL REPLOGLE: Right now is far as I know they are still in detention, I think Liliana probably has better information on that.

LILIANA LUNA: Yeah, there are thirty-four members yesterday hoping to reconnect with their families and right now only one person has been deported and that was a single parent who crossed with her daughter.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You are with the national immigrant group alliance that organize this rally, those with this action is being taken? Tell us why this action is being taken.

LILIANA LUNA: This is a action that is a response to the interpretation that has not been happening since present of Doctor Obama has taken office.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It is in reaction to the increase in deportations in the Obama administration?

LILIANA LUNA: Correct, after seeing so many of our family members and community members getting deported, we felt that we needed to do something in response to that and the organizers who listen to her community and realize that they wanted to bring those family members back home and he said he usually it's because a number of our family members have to do that.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Are the members of the alliance mostly Mexican citizens are US citizens, who is taking part in the demonstration?

LILIANA LUNA: Of us are undocumented and some of our family is Mexican but different nationalities and on the server undocumented and I can to the United States was fourteen, and I have been in Oregon sense.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Jill, many in this group are being called dreamers, what does that mean?

JILL REPLOGLE: This is a name that undocumented youth has have taken on, the dream act that came about and has never been passed and the wood at gives citizenship to your people brought United States as children many of them when they are toddlers and really know no other now other countries in the US, what these people hope for.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I think it comes as a surprise to these people to reckon is the fact that deportations have increased dramatically since Barack Obama has been present.

JILL REPLOGLE: They have, some people think that it's part of a strategy to look tough with the Republican Party and at the same time he is doing things like the deferred action for childhood arrivals which is basically a sort of administrative dream act, it is temporary and it's a little iffy, but basically young people like Lily on a who don't have a criminal record who graduated from high school in the US can get it you work permit and have legal status to stay in the country and not fear deportation.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Liliana, your cell phone is difficult for us to understand, but I would like to ask you about one of the main issues that seems to be driving these demonstrations and that is the claim that Emily's are being torn apart by current immigration laws, can you explain to us how that happens?

LILIANA LUNA: Yes that is one of the issues, for instance programs like secure communities are tearing apart are families, for example families are coming back to Oregon were deported because of programs like secure trainees were someone gets stopped by police officer and keep in mind undocumented people in the United States most of them don't have access to all drivers license, so they have to be detained and get processed into jails, and was there put into James jails mother under fingerprint, they realize that their committee members are in the United States without documents, that's when they get sent to the center for migration and get deported, it's a process that we are trying to stop at a local level, and for that reason we try to let people know that it does not end in deportation, if you've been deported you can still mobilize in the community and work around that.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That me ask you, to secure communities that Lily Anna talks about, is that something that has been issue in San Diego as well? That many people have been basically been this deported because of that program?

LILIA VELASQUEZ: I think that it is correct, a lot of people are turned over to ice, because the committed a traffic infraction and the police officer call ICE or the border control and identify the person and at that point if the person has never been deported, they are supposed to be given the right to leave the country voluntarily without deportation or to go for a judge, now all of those people are intimidated by the officers and sometimes persuaded that the best thing for them and for the family is for them to sign on the dotted line and just go back to their country, so yes that is been one of the main arguments against secure communities that the net is very wide, and it catches people that have not committed any type of serious crimes.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And people do take that and go back to Mexico and voluntarily, they are not allowed to reenter, because they have already entered once illegally is that right?

LILIA VELASQUEZ: That is correct, they are not allowed to come back and many of them do, some of this them stay home because they don't have the money to be a smuggler, or they are afraid, insecure, secure communities has separated families.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What chance do think that protesters and people who surrendered to border patrol agents in these first test, hello much of a chance they have of obtaining asylum?

LILIA VELASQUEZ: That is the million-dollar question, I can only go by the statistics that we have for Mexican asylum-seekers, but 9000 of them applying in 2012, hundred and twenty-six were approved and the approval rate for Nick Mexican nationals is very very small, we're talking 1%. Never people that arrived at the port of entry, the concern is whether or not they have a bona fide legitimate reason for political asylum and one of the five grounds that are stated in the international refugee convention, it's testing the system and the groups that came through Arizona and Texas, some were deported and some are still need the plan for a silent asylum, I think it is too early to tell whether the means utilized by those groups are really effective and will be effective in the long run and lead to immigration reform.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Is there a difference in legal terms between asylum is what is being called humanitarian parole?

LILIA VELASQUEZ: There are two different things, when you come to the port of entry you have no documents, and the CBP officers have the right to deport you right then and there, they do not need to take you before the immigration judge, but the exception is if you say political asylum, and if they do say political asylum, and we as a signatory to the refugee convention have the responsibility to let the men and let them apply for asylum and then they went through an interview where the asylum officer will interview them and if there is a from a prima facie key there is a legitimate fear than they will say that you can go before the judge and present your case in full and some of those individuals are then paroled then, they let them come in so they can pursue their asylum cases without being that detained.

The groups living in the seed feel if they have nothing to lose and it may come to haunt them in the future. If they claim asylum and they don't have a legitimate basis for asylum I think in the long run this may come up.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You mention therefore that we just heard that this is the third time in action like this has been happening and taken of the border, where else is this happen?

JILL REPLOGLE: As Lilia mentioned, there were a few others and nine undocumented young people and team nine went through Arizona in July of last year and another group of thirty or maybe even more than thirty crust in September last year at Laredo and I think thirty Through and three or four were deported, what is interesting is even though there may be a long shot that they when asylum cases, that people yesterday who would come through the radio in that second protests and have worked prominent permits and one guy told me that his date for an asylum judge is in 2016, so he has some time and he bought himself a couple of years to be with his family and when asked organizers, what is the long-term set strategy is a smart, she said I think it is already a rain wind for people who want to come back with their families.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: There have also been recent protests not affiliated with this group and using different tactics and they've also challenged US immigration law something about one other border crossing in November as there's also a hunger strike and detention facility, tells about those.

JILL REPLOGLE: These this weekend and maybe started on Friday I think there are more than 700 people at an immigration detention facility in Washington that went on 100 hunger strike, that is a huge amount of organizing it must have gone into that and as far as I know they are still on hunger strike and that than a very different group of people last year towards the end of last year in Tijuana a lot of the people that were camped out in the Plaza in downtown Tijuana had been deported at the other shelters in downtown Tijuana and they got together and apparently there are a few guys that organized these people to rush the border and they do not go through a port of entry like the group yesterday but rather they literally walked up to the border fence and sort of unclear whether they thought there can it get through, but I talked to a few people that hopes that it might work.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And there was some competition there?

JILL REPLOGLE: There were confrontations there in the rocks and bottles thrown and the border patrol put up a net where they were very restrained and the newly was hurt in the newly fired in the shots but no one was seriously injured.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: When you look at all of these different forms of protest, they all do challenge US immigration law, or the acts of frustration?

LILIA VELASQUEZ: I think that is the impetus for we're seeing today at the ports of bench entry the desperation, frustration The fact that Congress is not passing immigration reform the end they see that as the reason for raising leaving the country or taking out of the country, because Obama and Congress have not been able to negotiate immigration reform, if they had they would be here, so there really blaming the administration and also blaming the increased number of deportations of their parents and when parents leave, many of them take the small kids, so they are uprooted from their communities and so, it's an issue that has so many dimensions, but it's politically-based and has to do with order security and managing immigration in the United States and what do we do with 11 million? What is going to happen to the dreamers on the program and? We have a lot of unanswered questions and I think that the answer is Congress needs to work on immigration reform and maybe all that wind.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The reports of counter protesters at the border yesterday shouting that the people entering? Raking the law that they were criminals, to use think that we are actually any closer to a consensus on reforming immigration law?

LILIA VELASQUEZ: Apparently not, and I think that is the problem, the Curtis is and has been that the people are abusing the asylum process that is designed for legitimate asylum seekers, dreamers cannot come to the port of entry and say hi I am here to demonstrate, let me and they cannot do that, there's no mechanism for them to do that, but the only way they can do it? By applying for asylum and I think that that this could have a backlash, I understand the frustration and why? Because they represent those families and I think the level of frustration is reaching unbearable levels to the point where people say, I rest me, I don't care about being detained for years, I would rather be in a detention center in the US rather than Dean killed in Mexico.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: From what you're reporting of these demonstrations going to go on?

JILL REPLOGLE: I think so, organizers have told me like Liliana said at the beginning, they are responding to their community, the same thing that people said to me yesterday and people want a way to come back and we also met several people yesterday who would heard on the radio or television that this had at been happening and they showed up at the border and to join them and come across and people are very desperate and as word search to come out that this is working in some way if it is working, then I think it will continue to go on.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to thank my guest, I've been speaking with Lilia Velasquez, Jill Replogle, and Liliana Luna.