ATLANTA—Two young undocumented North Carolina residents who participated in a sit-in today on the campus of Georgia State University have been arrested and taken to an area jail. Atlanta participates in the Secure Communities program, which makes the risk of detainment and deportation high.

“I’m doing this because our communities are living in fear,” said Jose Rico, one of two sit-in participants from North Carolina. “51,000 undocumented youth had their dreams torn apart when our senators voted against the DREAM Act. They are trying to criminalize our existence.”

Rico is a student at Wake Tech in Raleigh who plans to transfer to NC State University. After excelling in high school being accepted to numerous colleges, Rico could not afford to go to school because of the out-of-state tuition that undocumented students are required to pay. Rico plans to stay in North Carolina and become an engineer.

Georgia, like North Carolina, is considering banning undocumented students from attending public colleges and universities. Georgia has already banned attendance at its top-tier institutions. Two bills in the NC General Assembly, HB 11 and HB 343, would close the doors to immigrants on higher education. Both bills, along with others, have been introduced by Rep. George Cleveland (R-Onslow).

Viridiana Martinez, the other sit-in participant from North Carolina, has spoken to Cleveland personally.

“He doesn’t understand that he’s hurting people,” Martinez said. “These people are North Carolinians who love this state as much as he does.”

By participating in this sit-in, Martinez and Rico risk arrest and deportation. However, lobbying and political campaigns have yet to deliver federal reform.

“Rallying and protesting are no longer enough,” Martinez said. “Remaining in the shadows is no longer acceptable.”

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