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Four activists arrested at immigration protest could be deported

September 7, 2012 |  2:25 pm

Four of the five activists arrested Thursday at an immigration rights protest outside the downtown L.A. County jail are undocumented youths and could be subjected to the same deportation system they were demonstrating against, supporters say.

As of midday Friday, the activists remained behind bars and will stay in jail over the weekend unless they post bail, said Jonathan Perez, a spokesman for the Immigrant Youth Coalition. There was no indication that federal immigration holds had been placed on any of those arrested.

Five people were arrested at the protest, not six as authorities originally reported, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Police Department said Friday.

The five, who range in age from 17 to 32, had gathered outside the jail to draw attention to Sheriff Lee Baca's statements about immigration enforcement. They were urging Gov. Jerry Brown to sign the Trust Act, which would forbid local law enforcement from complying with federal requests to detain suspected illegal immigrants.

Baca has said he would defy the Trust Act and continue to cooperate with the federal Secure Communities program. Critics of the program say it ensnares low-level offenders such as a Sacramento tamale vendor who was arrested for hawking her wares in front of a Wal-Mart store.

The four undocumented activists are also at risk of being detained because U.S. immigration authorities have immediate access to the fingerprints of everyone who is booked on criminal charges in Los Angeles County. Under a policy announced by President Obama in June, undocumented immigrants age 30 or under who meet certain criteria can apply for a two-year reprieve from deportation that would also allow them to obtain work permits and driver's licenses.

Fewer than a third of the roughly 80,000 people deported from California through Secure Communities since the state joined the program in 2009 were convicted of serious crimes. The Trust Act contains an exception for serious or violent felonies.

Luis Gonzalez, one of those arrested, issued a statement on the Immigrant Youth Coalition's website: "Twenty-five thousand deportations by Sheriff Lee Baca is unjust, and if we, as students, care about our families and communities then we have a responsibility to let them know that we will fight for them."

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-- Cindy Chang

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