Austin police arrest 5 immigration protesters



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Posted on June 27, 2013 at 10:26 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 28 at 4:16 PM

AUSTIN -- More than 100 people gathered at Republic Square Park in downtown Austin at 4th Street and Guadalupe for an immigration rally Thursday afternoon.

The protesters have been caravaning across Texas fighting for immigration reform, ending the journey in Austin Thursday.

They say they marched downtown to get the attention of Texas senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, who they say have an anti-immigrant stance. Protesters say they want reform to save immigrant lives and reunite families.

"We come here because we are been promised that American dream," said protester Luis Veloz.

The demonstration is especially meaningful to Veloz. He came to America at six years old and at 12 became a citizen.

"I came to this country and had no papers," Veloz explained. "I'd live with the constant fear of losing my parents."

They're fighting for immigration reform to help immigrants get to America legally and safely.

Thursday the Senate passed legislation that aims to secure the borders; the protesters say it's not helping.

"That isn't immigration reform; it's border militarization," said protester Cristina Parker. "I don't want drones and black hawk helicopters, surveillance towers, radar in my back yard."

Police arrested five protesters who refused to get out of the street. Still, police say the group showed respect and the event ran smoothly.

"These young people here today showed how you're supposed to demonstrate," said Austin Police Department Chief Art Acevedo.

The protest turned into a vigil as everyone moved a few blocks west to the Travis County Jail, awaiting the demonstrators' release.

"Little bit scary, but now it's a good purpose for the people there on the border, for integrity of families," said Antolin Aguirre, one of the five arrested.

They say going to jail is a small gesture compared to what their family and friends sacrifice on the road to America.

"People are dying, and nobody seems to care about that," Veloz said.

Veloz says for many it's worth the risk.

"When I was in Mexico we lived in a house without electricity, without hot water. We didn't even have a road to get to our house," he explained. "We are people who deserve a chance to at least prove to the world that poor people can do great things."

Those arrested Thursday are charged with civil disobedience, a class C misdemeanor.