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Immigration Activist Files Lawsuit Against Federal Government for Alleged Denial of Deportation Protection for Political Activity

usa-1149896_640Ireri Unzueta Carrasco, a 29-year-old undocumented immigrant from Mexico who moved to the United States as a child, was recently denied protection against deportation by the Department of Homeland Security.

Carrasco first applied in 2013 for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides protection against deportation. She was granted protection under the program despite being involved and arrested in several demonstrations for immigrant rights.

But when Carrasco applied for renewal of immigration status in 2015, she was denied protection by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on the grounds of her previous civil disobedience arrests, referring to her case as having “raised public safety concerns.”

Carrasco responded by filing a lawsuit against U.S. immigration officials, naming the USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the officials who had the authority to reverse the decision. Carrasco calls her denial of protection as the government’s way of retaliating for her activism.

In a press conference last week, Carrasco said, “There are hundreds of undocumented people who have participated in acts of civil disobedience to protect their communities, and I do not want them to be targeted for their acts of political expression.”

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has yet to initiate Carrasco’s deportation proceedings, at least for now.

History and Record of Arrests

Carrasco first entered the United States at the age of 6, attending Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago and going to college at the University of Illinois.

A firm supporter of immigrant rights, Carrasco had been arrested five times since 2009. Four of these arrests were during immigration protests and rallies, with one for sleeping on a park bench in New York. She was released on all five incidents.

Carrasco argues she was arrested for exercising her freedom of expression, calling her participation in the rallies “an act of survival” for immigrants facing the same situation as her. She was first arrested in 2010 when, she, together with other protesters, held sit-ins in congressional office buildings as a mean of lobbying for DREAM Act, a botched bill designed to offer a way for young immigrants to attain legal status.

“In the past, when we were organizing different actions, I always heard that the people that were U.S. citizens should be the ones taking the risks, because they would be safe. For me, participating in 2010 was a very empowering action,” she said in an interview.

U.S. immigration officials say there are several reasons for denying applicants renewal of protection against DACA. These include major misdemeanors, a felony conviction, or being identified as a threat to public safety and national security.

The USCIS declined to comment on Carrasco’s case.

Learn more about the provisions under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by talking to the legal team of Lyttle Law Firm. Contact us at (512) 215.5225 for a consultation.