Dear Friend of Undocumented Youth,
On Wednesday January 11th four undocumented youth will be appearing in court at 9:00 am in Gadsen, Alabama. Sonia Guinansaca and Felipe Baeza from New York, Jesus Barrios from California, and Reyna Wences from Illinois will be facing a charge of criminal trespassing in the 3rd degree after being arrested while looking for a person in deportation proceedings at the Etowah County Detention Center. The four were in Alabama supporting a conference and action by the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA), which including doing anti-deportation advocacy with people in deportation in local detention facilities. After receiving a call from a detainee, the four were determined to find this person and organize around their case. Being in Alabama, they decided to go ask in person.
“When we went inside the office the person behind the desk could not find him. We kept looking and telling her that we felt a responsibility to find him and help him. But we could not find his name. After we asked to talk to the supervisor he called the police. We had a conversation with all of them about the local detention laws, as well as the anti-deportation work we do,” says Wences remembering the incident. After a few minutes the four were asked to exit the office, and they stepped out to the sidewalk. “The police officer then threatened us saying that if we said one more word he would arrest us. I asked, ‘What are we going to do?’ and he took out his handcuffs. I don’t remember them reading us our Miranda rights either,” she states. The four spent the following two and a half days in jail and were charged with criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct. On Wednesday, the four are going to a court in a small town in Alabama. The court has told them that for their charges, they will not be assigned a public defense attorney. Without any representation, the four undocumented youth organizers will walk into a court in a state that has passed the most aggressive legislation in the country that criminalizes undocumented workers. The maximum sentence, by Alabama criminal code, is three
The NYSYLC, Immigrant Youth Justice League and the National Immigrant Youth Alliance are asking for your help. As of right now, we need to secure the funds necessary to get Sonia, Reyna, Felipe and Jesus’ legal, court and other costs associated covered. Please contribute and help our movement, and to ensure that these four organizers are safe. Stand with us today. Click here to donate.