The arrests of family members of a prominent immigration activist sparked sudden and immediate outrage on social media outlets. The mother and brother of Erika Andiola were apparently on a high priority list for deportation as part of the so-called "Secure Communities" program.
According to the New York Times, Andiola's mother, Maria Arreola became part of the list after being stopped (and detained) for driving without a license. Her fingerprints were sent to federal immigration officials, and subsequent research revealed that she was deported in 1998 after crossing into Arizona illegally.
Arreola's arrest could have resulted in swift deportation actions, but federal immigration officials moved quickly to quash the proceedings. They ostensibly were pressured by the wave of support from immigration advocates through phone calls, social media petitions, Twitter posts (hashtag WeAreAndiola) and emails calling for her release.
We find this story compelling in light of our recent post on the Obama Administration's change on detention policies for non-violent, suspected illegals. The reaction also gave the administration some insight on how much political capital could have been irreparably lost if Arreola was deported, especially given the record number of deportations during the president's tenure (more than 400,000 per year). The New York Times reports that the rate of deportations rivals numbers during the 1950's, when the perceived threat of communism controlled immigration policy.
The story is also an interesting view into the power of social activism through social media outlets, and how it gives young people a voice in expressing their views on immigration policies. Nevertheless, for each Maria Arreola story, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of stories like it that are never heard about.
Source: NewYorkTimes.com, Immigration arrests lead to online outcry and release, January 12, 2013