By NASRA ABDALLA KHAMIS
Immigration activist and undocumented immigrant Marco Saavedra’s told an immigration judge at his asylum hearing on Thursday that he feared for his life if he were to be deported to his native Mexico.
The 29-year-old so-called “Dreamer” from the state of Oaxaca appeared at the hearing at 26 Federal Plaza, accompanied by a vocal group of supporters who took their time off from their morning schedule to let Saavedra know that he was not alone in his quest to avoid deportation and throw a spotlight on the trials of other people like him who came to the U.S. as children, grew up here and faced and uncertain future under the anti-immigrant posture of the Trump Administration.
“Si, sé puede. Yes, we can,” chanted his mother Natalia Mendez to the crowd as his two sisters chimed in with, “Undocumented! Unafraid!” as the walked their brother to his hearing.
His fear of being killed stemmed from his long history of immigration activism, his attorney Brian Stephen Johnson argued in the hearing room before Judge Sam Factor.
Saavedra has been involved in several high-profile immigration actions. In 2012, he purposely got arrested by the federal authorities to infiltrate the Broward Transitional Center in Florida to investigate allegations of human rights abuse inside the secretive facility.
The next year he “self-deported” to Mexico to experience for himself the dangers faced by other immigration aspirants by drug cartels. Soon he was admitted back into the U.S. after President Obama enacted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA). a measure that was now in limbo since President Trump failed to renew it and it now wends its way through the courts.
At the hearing Saavedra looked exhausted next to his attorney. He had been waiting for this day,
“This was a big day,” he declared. “We’ve been in asylum court for six years and removal proceedings for seven years. I’ll have to continue my advocacy; it’s not like being silence is going to help me any further.”
The case took over eight hours, and both the government and the plaintiff were ordered to submit written arguments by January 17.