Ahead of the four-year anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on June 15, undocumented immigrant Ireri Unzueta Carrasco, 29, is suing the Department of Homeland Security. The Chicago-based activist argues the department wrongfully denied her renewal application for DACA, citing her “civil disobedience” as a factor in this decision.
At the age of 6, Unzueta arrived in the United States from Mexico with her family. In 2013, she applied and received DACA status. Since then, she has demonstrated in the streets for immigration reform, specifically for the DREAM Act. Despite being arrested on multiple occasions for participating in sit-ins and protests, Unzueta has no criminal convictions, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Yet, her streak of outspokenness has gotten her labeled a “threat to public safety.” Unzueta filed her lawsuit against the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and The Department of Homeland Security with the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on Wednesday, May 25. “We decided that we needed to go public about what was happening with my case, so that the Department of Homeland Security and USCIS could know that any time that they try to do — they try to do something that’s unjust with our community, we’re going to stand up,” Carrasco told Democracy Now!
The lawsuit explains that the USCIS believes that she “endangers the public safety,” because protests, by nature, can put people at risk. But Unzueta defended her activism. “For me, civil disobedience is an act of survival. It’s something that we do to defend our communities,” Unzueta said. “And it’s important that we defend our right to continue expressing ourselves politically and be able to organize to defend our communities.”
With a 93 percent approval rate, the USCIS rarely rejects DACA applicants. When rejections do occur, they are usually received by applicants with a felony, a significant misdemeanor, three or more separate misdemeanors, or the applicant is labeled as a threat to national security. “There are hundreds of undocumented people who have participated in acts of civil disobedience … and I do not want them to be targeted for their acts of political expression,” she told the Tribune.
#Not1More – a group challenging unfair deportations – has banded behind Unzueta. As deportation remains a very real possibility for the Chicago activist, #Not1More is asking others to stand with her by signing a petition. #Not1More explains that she shouldn’t be denied the protections that her activism helped bring about. “Political protest is a first amendment right, not a public safety threat.” Sign the petition here.