Two students were arrested Wednesday in front of Philadelphia’s Immigration Enforcement Office after a protest in support of Miguel Garcia, an undocumented man who is being held in the York Detention Center in Pennsylvania.
Garcia has become a rallying point for the young activists, including Cesar Marroquin, who wore a black T-shirt that declared “I am undocumented” during the rally in support of the federal DREAM Act.
“He’s been living here since he was 9, the same age I came to this country,” Marroquin said of Garcia.
“It shouldn’t be the case. It shouldn’t work like that. Our immigration system is broken. And he should be with his family.”
Marroquin says many of his peers fear announcing their immigration status publicly. He hopes that if he is detained, his visibility as an activist will help protect him from deportation.
Marroquin supports the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors — or DREAM — Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for young people who serve in the military or finish college. He says the change is about more than college.
“A lot of youth go through depression in high school … a lot of them don’t think they can go to school or, you know, succeed in life. So we encourage all these youth that have come out here and that are going to come out of the shadows for the very first time,” he said. “We encourage them to continue to spread the word about who we are and continue to show their friends that we have to come out as a community.”
The federal legislation, which has some bipartisan support, is stalled in Congress.
Opponents say it would reward people for breaking immigration laws.
Marroquin came to the U.S. with undocumented parents when he was 9. He recently dropped out after finishing two semesters of community college. He said he couldn’t afford the out-of-state tuition he paid because he doesn’t have papers.