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DREAM Activists Volunteer for Detention to Prove ICE is a "Rogue Agency"

When the cameras aren’t rolling and the nation’s not looking on, does the Obama administration abide by its own deportation policies?

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As well-acquainted as Barrera and Perez with the nation’s onerous immigration laws, they say this experience has been eye-opening for them, too.

“It’s the small things. When it’s time to eat they say, ‘Everybody go chow.’ It’s kind of weird, it makes me feel like I’m an animal,” Perez said of detention. “It feels a lot like elementary school, there’s always someone telling you what to do and what you can’t do.”

The lesson, they believe, is that undocumented immigrants are safer when they come forward and organize instead of cowering in the shadows. It’s there that ICE does most of its enforcement work, they say. It’s there where it’s impossible to hold them accountable.

“We need to stand up and eliminate the fear and fight the anti-immigrant laws that are terrorizing our communities,” Barrera said over the phone.

“I want lawmakers to look at the face of the ‘illegal,’ as we’re called. Get to know these people,” Barrera said. “I love the trees, and the sky and animals and plants just like you do. I’m a human being too.”

Julianne Hing is a reporter and blogger for covering immigration, education, criminal justice, and occasionally fashion and pop culture.

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