This week, a group of immigrant students staged a protest in the Arizona offices of Senator John McCain. They were holding a sit-in to protest Arizona’s new law cracking down on illegal immigrants. Anchor Marco Werman speaks with one of the students, Yahaira Carrillo.
Read the Transcript
This text below is a phonetic transcript of a radio story broadcast by PRI’s THE WORLD. It has been created on deadline by a contractor for PRI. The transcript is included here to facilitate internet searches for audio content. Please report any transcribing errors to email@example.com. This transcript may not be in its final form, and it may be updated. Please be aware that the authoritative record of material distributed by PRI’s THE WORLD is the program audio.
MARCO WERMAN: The battle against the drug cartels is one the main topics Presidents Obama and Calderon are talking about today in Washington. Another is immigration — and the new Arizona law clamping down on illegal immigrants. This week, a group of immigrant students in Arizona protested by staging a sit-in in the offices of Senator John McCain. Yahaira Carrillo was one of students. Yahaira, why did you stage this protest?
YAHAIRA CARRILLO: Well we decided to have a sit in at Senator McCain’s office because it’s very important that we pass the dream act this year. The dream act would allow undocumented young people who were brought to the United States while they were children, not of their own volition, to have a pass towards legalization. They’ve lived here all of their lives. This is all that we know. This is where we call home. This is where all of our allegiances lie.
WERMAN: Tell me just a little bit about yourself. You are an undocumented student, but how long have you lived in the United States?
CARRILLO: I have been in the United States since I was seven, so like I said, all of my life is here. I lived in southern California while I was young and my parents were migrant farm workers for a while before moving into northern California. And we have been living in Kansas City since I was 12.
WERMAN: You’ve been released from custody now, what happens next for you?
CARRILLO: We now have to fight our cases on the outside and we also have to face a trespassing charge for being in Senator McCain’s office past closing time. So both of those cases are still pending.
WERMAN: Has anybody mentioned deportation?
CARRILLO: That is a possibility. Like I said, we are undocumented students. It is a reality. We do not know until we get that final decision from the Judge what is going to happen, but we’re going to fight our cases through every angle that we can to stay here.
WERMAN: I’m wondering if you differentiate between undocumented workers and the children of immigrants who are undocumented, people like yourself.
CARRILLO: Well, I mean undocumented workers, those are our parents, those are some of our community members and the decided to come here and bring us here for a better life. Obviously the main difference is that we as young people did not choose to come here, we were brought. I don’t want to be cliché and say we’re as American as Apple Pie, but this is home to us, this is all that we know. I can tell you personally, although I do speak Spanish I know American history way better than I know Mexican history. I can read and write so much better than I can in Spanish. I communicate more fluently in English. This is really who I am, this is my home and I’m going to fight and I know we’re going to fight to continue to be here and to really help those thousands of students that need this, that are in the same situation as use. I mean I just met a young girl a couple of weeks ago who was brought here when she was four weeks old. I know I have tried by any means possible to legalize my status, but unfortunately there is no path to do so without the dream act. I have no other way of becoming a citizen and integrate other than the dream act.
WERMAN: So let me ask you this, how does it feel to have put so much on the line personally for this cause of yours? It could change the course of your life at this point.
CARRILLO: We knew what we were facing by going into the Senator’s office. We know that deportation in the long run is a possibility, but it’s not about us, it’s about something bigger. What matters is the dream act. What matters is all of these thousands of young people. Like I said it’s 65,000 a year that graduate that don’t really have a path to follow their dreams and are truncated.
WERMAN: What would it be like for you Yahaira, if you were deported back to Mexico?
CARRILLO: I don’t know what I would do, where I would go. It’s uncertain for me, especially since the state where I was born is a state where there is, unfortunately a lot of violence currently and it’s just very unsafe. It would break my heart. I would break my heart because this is home to me. American is home to me. One of the perfect examples is I originally wanted to be in the Marines and I was not able to follow through with that. So after a year of doing ROTC program in high school, it was the best decision for me to step away from that because I wouldn’t be able to pursue that in the long run. Even things like that. I love this country, my country which I consider home and I want nothing more than to contribute fully and as much as I can to it.
WERMAN: So the U.S. is home for you, but what is it like living in that home as an undocumented student? Are you able to get a driver’s license? Are there things that you can’t do here?
CARRILLO: There’s a lot of things that I can’t do obviously. Like as far as jobs, where do I work, how do I get around? As far as funding school, its odd jobs, whatever I can find to support myself. It’s just hard to become a fulfilled adult without really being accepted into the system. And so at times I feel like I’m a person without a country to be honest, just because I’m neither from there nor from here. So where do I go? What is it that I’m supposed to do?
WERMAN: I sense you feel a limbo?
CARRILLO: It is. It’s a limbo. It’s a constant up and down. Like I said, ultimately the decision of whether I get to stay in the country or not is up to the immigration courts as we go through with my case or, in the case that, what we want is the dream act to pass. So if the dream act were to pass then obviously we’d be able to now integrate into the system fully.
WERMAN: Yahaira Carrillo is an undocumented student among those arrested at a sit in Senator John McCain’s Tucson office this week. Yahaira, thank you very much, good to speak with you.
CARRILLO: Thank you so much.
Copyright ©2009 PRI’s THE WORLD. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to PRI’s THE WORLD. This transcript may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior written permission. For further information, please email The World’s Permissions Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.