Tensions were high in advance of the release of two college students, both undocumented immigrants, from police custody. The two young women were arrested Wednesday around 4 p.m. for blocking the street in front of the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Philadelphia.
“ICE knows they are undocumented. We were right in front of their office, so we really don’t know if they are going to get involved,” said Fernanda Marroquin, who also attended the protest.
After they were released Thursday from police headquarters, Tania Chairez and Jessica Heijin Lee said that ICE had dropped a detention order for Chiarez. Lee believes their public announcement of their immigration status protected both young women from detention, saying that, “I hope the community and ICE realize that we’re going to fight for our community and the community’s going to feel more encouraged to come out now that we’ve proven we’re OK.”
The students’ protest came during a month of events around the country in which undocumented young people — including high school-age students — have been encouraged to declare their status publicly.
“Other people would have had a detainer. I would be on my way to Mexico if I was not so public about my status,” argued Chairez.
Both she and Jessica Lee arrived in the country with their parents as young children.
So did Miguel Garcia, currently in custody. The two women acted in part to bring awareness to his case. Garcia was detained in July, several years after serving a sentence for a criminal conviction and is being held at York Detention Center.
Lee attends Bryn Mawr and Chairez is studying at the University of Pennsylvania. The two were released on their own recognizance. They say they plan to take their misdemeanor charges to trial.