DREAM Activist's Mother Detained
The United States detained the mother of a prominent DREAM Act activist in Arizona on Thursday night and nearly deported her. The detention raises questions about just who the government chooses to deport and why.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement detained Erika Andiola’s mother, Maria Arreola, and her brother, Heriberto Andiola, on immigration charges. Andiola is a founder of a coalition of activists in Arizona calling for the DREAM Act. She’s garnered national attention for her work.
Andiola was home when the federal agents came. She took to YouTube on Thursday night to denounce the arrests of her brother and her mother, Maria Arreola.
"My mom came outside and they took her for no reason," she says on the video, crying.
Criticism of the arrest escalated across the country. Then, ICE announced both the brother and mother were to be released.
ICE in Arizona declined on its decision. That’s raised more questions. First, why did the agency target Arreola? And second, why did agents then let her go?
In a statement, the bureau said both cases fell under the guidelines of prosecutorial discretion, the loose set of rules under which ICE looks at the whole situation and then makes a decision whether to deport on a case by case basis.
The mother, Arreola, had already been deported in 1998. Being in the U.S. after she was deported opened her up to a new deportation. A traffic citation for speeding last September also could have raised ICE’s attention. But ICE also declined to comment on why they made an exception in Arreola’s case. The agency said only that the family was not targeted for their role in the DREAM Act Coalition.
Frank Sherry is director of the immigration reform group America’s Voice. He says this case shows that prosecutorial discretion can be too fluid by leaving the decision to arrest up to agents.
"It’s so routine. This is what 400,000 deportations a year looks like," he said.
ICE has said it is focusing on only deporting the most dangerous illegal immigrants. But critics point to an internal memo written in 2010. In it, an ICE official set a goal of 400,000 deportations a year. One way to achieve that was to focus on people who’d tried to sneak into the country more than one time.