Group fights for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally

Article subtitle: 
Volunteer organization uses community advocacy to pressure immigration officials
Article author: 
Roxana Kopetman
Article publisher: 
Orange County Register
Article date: 
4 May 2014
Article category: 
National News
Article Body: 

Alexis Nava Teodoro was getting ready to go to sleep when a friend called: Immigration authorities picked up her aunt earlier that day. The family was frantic.

Victoria Delgado Arteaga, an [illegal alien] undocumented resident from San Juan Capistrano with no criminal record and six children – four with temporary residency – was on her way home from grocery shopping when she was arrested.

Members of an organization called RAIZ, an Orange County group with some 15 young advocates working to stop deportations, hustled to free Arteaga.

The next morning, Nava Teodoro posted an online petition that was soon signed by more than 1,000 people. Hundreds of supporters flooded Border Patrol offices with phone calls. A call to Rep. Loretta Sanchez’s office prompted the staff to call immigration authorities ...

That same night, less than 48 hours after her arrest, the grandmother of 11 children was returned to the area where she was stopped near the train station. Awaiting her were her family, community supporters and members of RAIZ, a Spanish word that translates to roots.

“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them,” said Arteaga, who acknowledged she has lived in the country for 14 years without proper documentation ...

Immigration authorities say they consider a range of factors in determining whether someone should be deported.

“ICE exercises discretion on a case-by-case basis ... to focus resources on the agency’s stated priorities,” said Andrew S. Muñoz, spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He declined to talk specifically about RAIZ cases ...


RAIZ got its start a little over two years ago but began working individual deportation cases only last fall. The name is an acronym for “resistencia, autonomia, igualdad, liderazgo,” or “resistance, autonomy, equality, leadership.”

Most of the members originally belonged to the OC DreamTeam, a group of undocumented college students that were part of a nationwide network seeking a federal law to legalize young people brought illegally to this country at an early age ...

One Long Beach mother, for example, was arrested for shoplifting. Her alleged crime did not merit transferring her to immigration authorities under a new California law called the Trust Act, RAIZ members believed.

“At the end of the day, if she were a U.S. citizen she would have been released,” Nava Teodoro said. “We don’t like the narrative of the good and the bad [illegal alien] immigrant,” he said ...

“Sometimes when a congressional person calls ICE or any agency, it can have some weight. But at the end of the day, it’s up to the agency to do their job,” she [spokeswoman for Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach] said ...

CAIRCO comment:

Try making a call to your congressman to ensure the deportation of a identified illegal alien in ICE's custody...our results are not so swift as this. "A call to Rep. Loretta Sanchez’s office prompted the staff to call immigration authorities ... That same night ... the grandmother of 11 children was returned ..."