DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A vigil is being held on Wednesday night to bring attention to the arrest of a Michigan undocumented youth in Atlanta.
Twenty-one year-old Dayanna Rebolledo was one of eight undocumented youths who were arrested near the campus of Georgia State University. She was demanding that colleges and universities refuse implementation of bans on higher education.
With chants of “Refuse The Ban” and “Education Not Deportation,” the undocumented youth sat in the middle of the street, stopping traffic on the corner of Decatur and Courtland in downtown Atlanta.
As the foreign-born youngsters sat in the road, at times holding hands, hundreds of supporters lined the street and cheered in support as the illegal immigrants were led away in handcuffs.
Before the sit-in the youngsters, their voices trembling, each stood before the crowd, took a microphone and announced: “I am undocumented, and I am unafraid.”
The group protested in an effort to bring national attention to the issue of equal access to education. They are also upset with what they see as anti-immigrant legislation in Georgia and elsewhere across the country. A similar student rally was held last month in Detroit.
South Carolina passed a law banning illegal immigrants from attending state colleges and universities, but a similar measure in Georgia failed. However, Georgia’s university system late last year approved a rule that essentially bans illegal immigrants from the five most competitive public schools in the state, if those colleges had rejected academically eligible students because of a high number of applicants.
The protest was part of “The Dream is Coming” project, which was created to advocate for the DREAM Act, legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for certain young people who were brought here at a young age. It has failed to pass Congress several times, most recently in December.
According to a release, when asked why she participated in this action Rebolledo responded, “I decided to risk my deportation because I’m tired of seeing undocumented youth being treated like second class citizens. I want these youth to become empowered to come forward and share their stories.”
The vigil, held by Michigan-based immigration rights advocacy group “One Michigan,” will begin at 5:30 pm on Wednesday at St. Hedwig (3245 Junction St. Detroit).
The protesters were charged with obstructing traffic. Atlanta police do not participate in a local-federal partnership that empowers local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law, so the likelihood of the students being turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was low. As of now, there is no word whether ICE will be involved with the case.
Rebolledo came to the United States when she was 9 years old. She grew up in Detroit and is a leader of the immigrant rights group One Michigan. She is currently attending Henry Ford Community College and hopes to one day become a teacher.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.