About 40 rally downtown to demand immigration reform, support NC student returning home


Photos by Max Cooper

About 40 people rallied downtown this morning to support Luis Gustavo, a McDowell High graduate seeking to return to the U.S., and call for reform to immigration law. Gustavo is a “DREAMer,” an undocumented immigrant who would have been allowed to stay under the terms of the DREAM Act, but left for Mexico when the legislation failed in 2011.

According to an announcement by the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, one of the organizers of the rally, Gustavo graduated from McDowell High in 2011 and received the Class Spirit Award. But “less than a month later, he decided to self-deport to Mexico knowing that if he stayed in the US, he would not have the chance to continue with his education.”

The DREAM Act would have allowed undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. at an early age and were pursuing higher education or service in the military a potential path to citizenship. While the act failed in 2011 and 2012, the executive branch declared a measure known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that would prevent the deportation of those who would have qualified for the DREAM Act and others who arrived in the U.S. as small children. On Monday, Gustavo started the journey home with four other DREAMers and several immigration activists.

According to the announcement:

Those two years have not been easy for Luis. Not being able to stand being away from his family, he tried to come home in June 2012 when the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was announced. Luis never made it; he was caught by border patrol. The responding agent sympathized with him, and filed for DACA on his behalf, but saw it rejected. Luis was subsequently deported. Desperate to come home, Luis attempted to re-enter three more times, and failed on each attempt. Luis is coming home to be with his mother, sister, and four brothers.

The protesters, including Gustavo’s family, gathered on Pattion Avenue, shouting slogans demanding immigration reform and waving signs.

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