PHOENIX – Students in the country illegally who said they are tired of hiding took over a busy west Phoenix intersection Tuesday afternoon, refusing to move until their message was heard.
Protesters blocked traffic at 75th Ave and Cheery Lynn Road, in front of Trevor Browne High School, until they were arrested by police in riot gear.
Young undocumented students were calling for the end of Joe Arpaio as sheriff and the passage of the Dream Act. They feel he’s unfairly targeting people of Hispanic descent in his crime sweeps, and are trying to send a message.
Many of the demonstrators freely admitted to being undocumented and said they weren’t afraid of getting arrested.
“All that refuse will be arrested. If they’re adults, they will be taken to 4th Ave Jail. If they’re juveniles, then they’ll be taken to the juvenile detention center, and they’ll be processed just like anyone else,” said Phoenix Police Officer James Holmes.
After refusing police commands to leave the roadway, officers in riot gear moved in, taking six people into custody, one at a time.
It took police more than 2 hours to clear the road. “We don’t want to rush in if things do go bad,” explained Holmes.
The last to be arrested was 20-year-old Daniela Cruz.
“We are not criminals, we can come out and have power. We shouldn’t be scared anymore, we shouldn’t be hiding in our houses anymore,” said Cruz. “I’m prepared for anything…. come and get us Arpaio.”
Jackie Sanchez is a 16-year-old undocumented student who was also arrested. She met President Obama when he came to visit the valley, and asked him to get the Dream Act passed.
“I live day by day in fear, worrying about what’s going to happen in my future. Even if I do graduate as a biomedical engineer and complete my dreams of going to Cal-Tech, what will I do after?” she said.
“They want something done about the Dream Act, illegal immigration, they should go pressure their congresspeople, get the White House to do something to change the law. Not use me as a poster boy,” said Sheriff Joe Arpaio earlier Tuesday.
“You know the more they go after me, the harder I’m going to work. That’s my message to all these demonstrators.”
Immigration status is checked in the jails, so it is possible these protesters will be turned over to ICE and deported.
The adults are facing charges of obstructing a public thoroughfare and disorderly conduct.