Joe Arpaio To Be Confronted by Undocumented Dream Walkers: Will He Take the Bait?
|Dream Walker Carlos Roa, ready to confront Sheriff Joe|
How will "America's Toughest Sheriff" respond to four undocumented students who will attempt to confront the geezer gendarme this coming Tuesday morning, by essentially daring the sheriff to arrest them?
So far Arpaio's playing possum with the Dream Walkers, a crew of undocumented college students who've been heralded in the media for leaving their homes in Miami, Florida and walking 1,500 miles to Washington, D.C. earlier this year to push for the DREAM Act. That's proposed federal legislation that would give such students a pathway to legalizing their status.
They stopped along the way to confront ICE agents and local sheriffs, none of whom have yet had the huevos to take the bait and handcuff them with the TV cameras rolling. They've already announced their intention to walk into the belly of the beast on June 1 -- Arpaio's offices on the 19th Floor of Wells Fargo Tower.
Last night, at the Human Rights Festival that preceded today's big anti-SB 1070 march to the Arizona state Capitol, I spoke with Dream Walker Carlos Roa, who told me that he and his colleagues have e-mailed their intentions to Arpaio's office. The response? Arpaio won't have time to meet with them.
"We're risking arrest and detention because we're stating our undocumented status," said Roa, 22, an architecture student at Miami Dade College. "Of course, he picks up people that are undocumented all the time. This time around, instead of picking us up like anywhere, we undocumented are going to go to his office to confront him, basically, and talk to him about this issue."
If Roa and his pals get arrested, there will be a media feeding frenzy. If Arpaio doesn't meet with them or arrest them, he looks like a fool. Either way, they figure, they win. Lawyers are at the ready if they're detained, and they are unafraid of jail.
Roa told me that he was brought to this country when he was two by his parents from Caracas, Venezuela. If you didn't know any better, you'd just assume he's another clean-cut American college student. But his undocumented status leaves him in a legal limbo, even though, for all intents and purposes, he's American.
"I have to pay out of state tuition," he told me. "I can't legally drive, I can't legally work. I can't vote or enlist in the military. It's really difficult to live life being undocumented. That was one of the main reasons that propelled us to do the walk in the first place."
The Dream Walkers are pushing the Obama administration for an immediate halt to the deportations of potential DREAM Act students and individuals who have immediate family members who are U.S. citizens.
"We're very disappointed with the Obama administration," said Roa. "Because they have a quota of deporting 400,000 for 2010, which is completely contrary to what President Obama ran on during his campaign. We've only seen the criminalization of our people increase...We have not seen anything positive in the way of immigration reform."
Dream Walkers like Roa are the rock stars of this movement, inspiring others with their fearlessness and giving an entirely new face to people the nativists brand as "illegal." Tuesday we'll see if Arpaio has the stones to face them.