Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dream Act Supporters Rally Around Detained South Floridian (NBC Miami)

Dream Act Supporters Rally Around Detained South Floridian
Protesters are fighting for the release of Shamir Ali while hoping the Dream Act will be signed into law to provide a path to citizenship for students and military service members

By Steve Litz | Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011 | Updated 10:23 PM EDT

The American dream of education has become a nightmare for some who were too young to know they were brought into the country illegaly.

The proposed 'Dream Act' would create a pathway to citizenship for college students and members of the military, but so far, it hasn't passed -- meaning a wave of deportations continues.

One of those deportations may be Shamir Ali, who is on the brink of being returned to India after living in the U.S. 18 years. His mother brought him into the country when he was seven; now 25, the government is ready to deport him to Bangladesh.

Protesters outside the Broward Transitional Center Tuesday are working to make sure that doesn't happen.

"It's just not fair that during an economic boom people came and were taken advantage of, paid low wages, etc., and now they're being told to leave after they built a life in the United States," said Felipe Matos, a protest organizer and friend of Ali's.

Nearly 400,000 illegal immigrants have been deported this fiscal year, the largest number in U.S. history. The government says 55 percent were convicted criminals.

Protesters, however, say the enforcement of current immigration laws is not working, and claim people are being wrongfully detained.

"This is breaking up families," said Kim Matum, who married her British husband inside the transitional facility in July. Immigration officials won't let him out.

"I'm a three hour drive away," Matum said. "I come because I got to support him, got to do what I can because I feel this is totally wrong that he's here [despite being] married to an American...His daughter is [in the] U.S. Navy."

Some 3,000 people have signed a petition in support of Ali, but in a statement Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say there is no demonstrable evidence that his removal would visit hardship on his family.

Matos and the protesters disagree.

"Shamir is one of many," he said. "That's why we're here, because we're not gonna stop until we can finally get the end of deportation of all Dream Act students."

Ali, meanwhile, will stay in detention until further notice.

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