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Protester recalls surrendering to immigrant agents in Laredo
By Crystal Price
EL PASO, Texas - One immigrant protester is still detained at the El Paso Processing Center after a group of 34 surrendered to immigrant agents in September at a point of entry in Laredo, Texas.
Twenty-eight protesters have been released and five were deported back to Mexico.
The group of protesters call themselves Dreamers, after the Dream Act that would grant immigrants a legal status in the United States.
All 34 undocumented immigrants moved here as children and lived in the United States for decades.
However, they went back to Mexico and then tried to return to the United States in September.
"I think there should be a way for all the dreamers to come back home," said Juan Manuelroa, an immigrant protester who was recently released.
Twenty-three-year old Manuelroa spent the last month in the El Paso Processing Center after he surrendered to immigration agents with the other 33 protesters back in September.
"I didn't know what was going to happen, but then I was just willing to do anything to come back to the country," Manuelroa said.
Manuelroa was born in Mexico, but moved to California when he was 11.
"After I graduated, I tried to go to school to college, and there was no in-state tuition for undocumented people," Manuelroa said.
Unsuccessful at finding a job or a college to attend, Manuelroa decided to go back to Mexico.
"While I was in Mexico, two of my uncles got kidnapped," Manuelroa said.
In fear of his own safety, Manuelroa said he and the 33 other immigrant protesters felt they had nowhere else to turn.
"We sympathize with the plight of separation of families, but disagree with the tactics," said Carlos Spector, an immigration attorney from El Paso.
Spector questions the group's decision to cross the border illegally.
"They have chosen tactics in a path that I would say a majority of the people in the immigrant rights movement disagree with and that is utilizing a political asylum as a means of bringing people in. Not for the purposes of fleeing persecution, but of obtaining papers," Spector said.
But Manuelroa said they are not solely seeking to obtain citizenship.
He just wants to pursue his dreams in a safe place.
"This is important because it's not only them and it's not only 30 people, it's a lot more people that are in Mexico right now that are at risk that need to come back," Manuelroa said.