By Alicia Torres

Upon the civil disobedience that took place last week in Indianapolis, Indiana, questions have arisen about whether such actions are necessary and responsible. The first thing that critics must remember is that deciding to participate in a civil disobedience action is a decision that is not taken lightly by either the participants or the organizers. As undocumented participants in a civil disobedience, you go in with the understanding that you are risking it all to gain it all. As organizers, you understand that the fate of the participants lay solely in your hands. Before a civil disobedience action is considered, there are natural steps that are taken–petitions, meetings, rallies, marches and the many other things that we as undocumented youth have done since 2001 in support of the DREAM Act. But when anti—immigrant bills are passed in your home state, there is an overnight sense of urgency that overflows your body. Suddenly petitions, rallies, and marches are not sufficient and local polititans start getting meaner and nastier. That was the case in Indiana.

Erick, Omar, Lupe, Paola and Sayra were arrested in Gov. Daniels’s office in protest of two immigration laws that passed in the state legislature: Senate Bill 590, which is similar to Arizona’s SB1070 and would make local police into de facto immigration agents; and HB1402, which would force undocumented Indiana students to pay out-of-state tuition rates which are triple the cost of in-state rates. The undocumented youth demanded a meeting with Daniels, which he denied. The Indiana civil disobedience was a response to the anti-immigrant sentiment that was about to be signed into law by Daniels. The Indiana undocumented community was and is in a state of urgency. I am not saying that petitioning, rallying and marching do not work because they do, but what I am saying and will stand behind is the fact that presently in our undocumented community there is an unprecedented urgency for survival.

When Arizona SB1070 copy cats are being introduced left and right and state participation in programs such as secure communities and 287g is becoming the norm we need to be ready not just to respond but to anticipate and counteract the anti-immigrant domino effect. To do this, we, the undocumented immigrant community, need to lose our fear and be ready to take the bull by its horns. So to the question of whether civil disobedience is necessary, my response is yes, because presently we are living in a continuous state of fear and with the feeling of the big man’s boot on our back.

Being undocumented is not just a status; it is a constant imposition of limitations on our lives. When you ask yourself: Am I we tired of living in fear? Am I tired of being oppressed? Am I ready to risk it all to gain self-liberation and you find yourself answering YES, then you will know that a civil disobedience is necessary. I am not advocating for you to go out and get arrested for a cause because there are definite consequences that need to be considered on an individual basis and responsible planning that must take place. What I am advocating is for people to think twice before they place judgment on civil disobedience actions and their organizers. As an undocumented person I do not want to see anybody get deported or put themselves in the line of fire and that is why my hat is off to those six undocumented students in Indiana who have showed us what courage looks like and what it means to be fighting for the right to a better life in this country that we call home. Thank you to the Indiana 6 and the Georgia 7; and to those of us around them lets be critical of our own personal judgment to civil disobedience participants and organizers.

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