Immigration activist joins US Rep. Sinema's staff

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Associated Press

Posted on January 16, 2013 at 11:03 PM

PHOENIX (AP) — An immigration activist who's one of the leaders of the Dream Act movement is joining the staff of U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema as a district outreach director.

Erika Andiola is a founder of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, a group of young immigrants who advocate giving legal status to people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Sinema's office announced Andiola's hiring Wednesday.

Andiola entered the U.S. illegally from Mexico but has work authorization for two years by way of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the deportation-relief offered by President Barack Obama to immigrants eligible for the Dream Act.

Andiola was in the news last week when federal immigration officers arrested her mother and brother at the family's home in suburban Phoenix. They were later released after a national outcry from immigration reform advocates.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials insist the two weren't targeted because of Andiola's activism.

Andiola said ICE agents told her there was a long-pending deportation order for her mother. Her brother was detained for refusing to answer agents' questions.

Last July, Andiola drew national attention when U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, a main proponent of the Dream Act, held up a large color poster of her on the Senate floor while describing how she graduated with honors with a bachelor's degree in psychology from Arizona State University.

Sinema, a Democrat, is in her first year in office after winning the new Phoenix-area 9th District in November.

On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Illinois, announced he was hiring Jose M. Quintero as an employee in his district office in Chicago.

Gutierrez said Quintero, who was born in Mexico and came to Chicago with his parents at age 6, was the first young immigrant in Illinois to receive work authorization via Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. He received work authorization and his official two-year reprieve from deportation in October.

Gutierrez said he plans to hire an additional recipient of deferred-action status for his office in Cicero in the coming weeks.

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