Putting Education Reform To The Test

DREAM Act-Eligible Youth Facing Deportation Is A “Fugitive,” Feds Say

Felipe Matos / SWER

DREAM Act activist Juan Rodriguez with Students Working for Equal Rights (SWER) paints "I Am Shamir" on t-shirts before the protest for Shamir Ali in Pompano Beach, Oct. 25, 2011.

Immigration officials say their decision to deport a Palm Beach College student is consistent with a new policy prioritizing the deportation of those committing crimes because a judge ordered the student deported as a child.

That makes 25-year-old Shamir Ali a fugitive, said Nestor Yglesias, spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Miami.

Ali ignored the order and stayed in Florida to attend college and work.

And when Miami resident Ali was caught in the middle of a non-immigration workplace raid, Yglesias said, “ICE officers determined that [Ali] was a fugitive alien with a final order of removal from an immigration judge.” Which means Ali’s apprehension “is consistent with ICE’s priorities to target convicted criminal aliens, immigration fugitives, recent border crossers and illegal re-entrants,” Yglesias said.

But immigration advocates say Ali’s deportation order is a clear contradiction to the Obama administration latest memo that it would prioritize deporting convicted criminals and undocumented immigrants who pose a security risk.

Felipe Matos with Students Working for Equal Right, or SWER, says ICE’s statement is “just another example of how [ICE is] amplifying what it means to be a … criminal.”

According to Matos, Ali’s mother applied for asylum for her son years ago. And that’s when they received the deportation order.

“To call him a fugitive is just crazy to me,” Matos said. “His mother tied to apply for asylum when he was under 18 years old, and they were denied. Isn’t that what [immigration] wants you to do? To try to get legal status. And now he’s being condemned for something that happened when he was a kid. But it doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s been here for over 17 years … went to school here and deserves to stay.”

DREAM Act activists across the U.S. protested earlier this week when Ali was told he would be deported back to Bangladesh. The DREAM Act would make it easier for undocumented students to earn legal status if they came to the country while young and graduated from a U.S. high school or served in the U.S. military.

Ali would be eligible for legal status in the country if the federal DREAM Act ever passes.


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