UCI Alum Arrested in D.C.

ArizonaProtest_Rashmi_Guttal_StaffFORWEB

Rashmi Guttal | Staff Photographer

On July 21, UCI graduate and Santa Ana resident Antonia Rivera was arrested in Washington D.C. at a demonstration in support of the DREAM Act. Rivera and 20 other demonstrators were arrested. The demonstrators were lobbying for support for the DREAM Act, a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants a chance at legal status. Rivera, an undocumented immigrant, was released, but is required to return to Washington in August for a court appearance.

“It has been a bittersweet journey and I have given a lot up for DREAM,” Rivera wrote in a press release statement.

Rivera, who graduated from UCI in 2006 with a literary journalism degree, is a part of the Orange County DREAM Team and part of the foundation for DREAMS at UCI and the Los Angeles DREAM Team, all organizations that are lobbying for support for the bill.

DREAMS at UCI has also been lobbying tirelessly for support from their peers. In May, during an educational protest on the Student Center Terrace, dozens of students gathered in blue face paint wearing signs that read, “Do I Look Illegal??” and “Pass the DREAM ACT NOW!!!”

The May protest ended with protestors urging students to call Senator Feinstein’s office and ask for support. Since then, more protests have mounted, followed by more arrests.

Following the July 21 arrests in D.C., members of both the Orange County and Los Angeles DREAM Teams organized a hunger strike in front of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office in Los Angeles. Senator Feinstein, who signed on as a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act in 2006, has been the target of protests and demonstrations recently as DREAM supporters fight to put the bill up for a vote.

“Our goal is for Senator Feinstein to champion the DREAM act as a standalone bill,” Vanessa Castillo, a member of the Orange County DREAM Team, said. Protestors have also been putting pressure on Senator Harry Reid of Nevada to support the bill.

The hunger strike, which lasted 15 days, ended on the evening of Aug. 4 with a candlelight vigil.

But the fight isn’t over yet. DREAM supporters continue to push forward in their efforts, but first they must confront the upcoming court dates for their supporters who have been arrested.

“Neither of us know the outcome,” Castillo said referring to her and Rivera’s uncertainty about the future.