- Associated Press - Friday, May 27, 2016

CHICAGO (AP) - A 29-year-old Chicago woman is suing several federal agencies after they rejected her renewal for deferred deportation status.

In an effort to reverse the decision, Ireri Unzueta Carrasco, 29, filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of Homeland Security, and two federal employees who had authority over her case, the Chicago Tribune (https://trib.in/25jLtA2 ) reported.

She alleges that she was denied renewal under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program because of her acts of civil disobedience in immigration protests. She claims that the denial was unwarranted and appears to be designed to punish her political activism.

Unzueta Carrasco was born in Mexico and came to the United States with her family at the age of 6.

In 2013, she was granted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status, which designates certain immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children as low priorities for deportation and gives them work authorization for two years.

When she tried to renew the status, her application was denied on the grounds of “public safety concerns” stemming from several acts of civil disobedience, according to an email from Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Between July 2010 and May 2013, Unzueta Carrasco was arrested four times during immigration protests and rallies in Chicago and around the country, but the lawsuit claims that none of those arrests led to a conviction.

Applicants can be denied Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status if they’ve been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, three or more separate misdemeanors, or pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Unzueta Carrasco argues that her arrests were the result of exercises of free expression demanding immigration reform. She said participating in the protests for immigrants’ rights was “an act of survival” for her and countless others in similar situations.

“There are hundreds of undocumented people who have participated in acts of civil disobedience to protect their communities, and I do not want them to be targeted for their acts of political expression,” Unzueta Carrasco said Wednesday at a news conference.

Michael Jarecki, a Chicago immigration attorney who helps file Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals applications, said he’s only seen renewals for deferred deportation status be denied if applicants have been convicted of crimes.

“These are just arrests and not convictions,” Jarecki said of Unzueta Carrasco’s case. “If you’re found not guilty, that arrest should not haunt you.”

Representatives from Citizenship and Immigration Services declined to comment on the case.

___

Information from: Chicago Tribune, https://www.chicagotribune.com

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