University police arrested three people, including one UT student, during an immigration rights protest outside the LBJ Library during President Barack Obama’s address, according to UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey.
The University has charged three protesters with criminal trespassing. Undeclared freshman Emily Freeman, United We Dream leader Alejandra Gomez and GetEQUAL member Patrick Fierro were protesting as part of several immigration-related demonstrations coordinated by University Leadership Initiative over the course of the week.
Diana Morales, linguistics junior and ULI member, said the group members knew there was a chance they would be arrested.
“We knew that the three people who were there were willing to take any risk to bring our message to Obama,” Morales said. “His administration has deported over 2 million people. This is something no other president has done, and his term is not even over.”
The protest began in front of the Tower, then the group marched to the Martin Luther King Jr. statue, which four ULI members had chained themselves to and slept Wednesday night.
After leading more chants, the group marched to the LBJ Library to try and deliver their message to the President. The arrests were then made and the protest dissipated.
Mechanical engineering senior Javier Huamani, who is undocumented, said he immigrated to the U.S. with his family from Peru when he was 8 years old because of financial issues and in search of the “American Dream.” Huamani said he and his family had to work hard to survive, and they experienced constant animosity from their surrounding community.
“I would have to be discriminated against in high school … and have to pretend I was not undocumented just so people wouldn’t make fun of me,” Huamani said. “There is no shame in being undocumented, whatsoever.”
According to the Pew Hispanic Research Trends Project, there were 11.7 million undocumented immigrants living the United States in 2012, a significant rise from 3.5 million in 1990.
Mechanical engineering freshman Michael Rukavina said he thinks the current rate of deportations under the Obama administration is understandable.
“Maybe I just don’t know enough, but I don’t see what the problem is,” Rukavina said. “Obama may have deported 2 million people, but if you’re here illegally, you have to be deported — that’s the law.”