A project of the Center for Community Change

Stassy arrests DREAM student and family

We pride ourselves on our freedom of speech in this country. We are a place where you can speak your mind without reprecussions from the governement, except if you are a sick child or an immigrant.

The same way in which republicans targeted the family of two-year old Bethany Wilkerson, in an attempt to kill SCHIP and keep kids from getting health insurance, the administration has slammed their foot on a young immigrant student who had the courage to speak out in support of the DREAM act.

 Three days after a 24-year-old college graduate spoke out on her immigration plight in USA TODAY, U.S. agents arrested her family — including her father, a Vietnamese man who once was confined to a “re-education” camp in his home country for anti-communist activities.

Elvira Arellano was taken. They’ve taken this family

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., who chairs the House immigration subcommittee, on Tuesday accused federal officials of “witness intimidation” for staging a pre-dawn raid on the home of Tuan Ngoc Tran.

Our government shouldn’t be allowed to fire attorney generals that don’t do their political dirty work, and they shouldn’t be allowed to silence and intimidate families that speak up for health insurance and immigrant rights.

the full story:

USA TODAY: Immigrant’s family detained after daughter speaks out

By Kathy Kiely, USA TODAY
October 17, 2007

WASHINGTON — Three days after a 24-year-old college graduate spoke out on her immigration plight in USA TODAY, U.S. agents arrested her family — including her father, a Vietnamese man who once was confined to a “re-education” camp in his home country for anti-communist activities.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., who chairs the House immigration subcommittee, on Tuesday accused federal officials of “witness intimidation” for staging a pre-dawn raid on the home of Tuan Ngoc Tran.

The agents arrested Tran, his wife and son, charging them with being fugitives from justice even though the family’s attorneys said the Trans have been reporting to immigration officials annually to obtain work permits.

Lofgren said she believes the family was targeted because Tran’s eldest child, Tam Tran, testified before Lofgren’s panel earlier this spring in support of legislation that would help the children of illegal immigrants. On Oct. 8, Tam Tran was quoted in USA TODAY. Her parents and brother were taken into custody Thursday. The family was released to house arrest after Lofgren intervened.

“Would she and her family have been arrested if she hadn’t spoken out?” Lofgren said of Tran, who was not at home for the raid but has been asked to report to Immigration and Customs officials next week. “I don’t think so.”

Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the Tran family’s arrest “absolutely, unequivocally had nothing to do” with Tam Tran’s advocacy. She said ICE agents began working on the case Sept. 28 and will now try to send the family to Germany, where the Trans lived for several years before coming to the United States. In the past, the German government refused the family’s permission to return; Nantel said the U.S. government will now make an official request.

The raid marked the latest chapter in the Tran family’s complex immigration odyssey. The family arrived in the USA 18 years ago from Germany, where the elder Trans ended up after the German navy rescued them at sea when they were escaping Vietnam.

Both Tam Tran and her brother, Thien, 21, were born in Germany, but they have lived in the USA since they were young. Tam Tran received a bachelor’s degree with honors in American literature and culture in December from UCLA.

She has lobbied for the DREAM Act, which would give children of illegal immigrants a chance to obtain citizenship if they earn a high school degree and complete two years of postsecondary education or two years of military service.

In 2001, the Board of Immigration Appeals said the Tran family could not be deported to Vietnam because Tam’s father had been persecuted there for his political beliefs. The board left open the possibility that the family could be sent to Germany, but German authorities wouldn’t give them a visa.

Nantel said there are more than 324,000 people living in the USA who have been ordered deported but who can’t be sent away because no country will accept them. It’s ICE’s job to find ways “to effect the judge’s order,” she said.

Bo Cooper, a Washington-based immigration attorney who this week agreed to take the Tran family’s case free of charge, said he’s puzzled that “the U.S. government would go and try to deport someone who doesn’t have a criminal record and who has been given formal protection” because of his treatment at the hands of the Vietnamese government.

Nantel acknowledged the Tran family had been reporting to immigration officials regularly. Asked why they were arrested and charged with being fugitives, she said agents “did not understand the complexity of the case.” She said ICE agents removed the family’s electronic ankle bracelets Tuesday.

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