Undocumented Immigrants Come Out of the Shadows, Take to the Road

It was around midnight Friday when the Undocubus rolled into Austin. It was 12 hours late, but then driving across the country in a refurbished bus is never a sure bet. The bus, christened “Priscilla,” had three mechanical meltdowns on her way from Phoenix to Austin.

The activists riding on the bus had planned to meet with Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo before holding a protest outside the Travis County Sheriff’s Office. Despite the Undocubus’ no show, about 50 supporters from several organizations including the Workers’ Defense Project, Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition, University Leadership Initiative and Grassroots Leadership gathered in front of the sheriff’s office to protest the county’s use of Secure Communities and the highest rate of noncriminal deportations in the country. The protesters marched back and forth across a small stretch of sidewalk chanting in Spanish: “We’re not criminals, we’re not illegals, we’re international workers!”

A few hours after the protest, some of the exhausted Undocubus riders finally arrived in Austin in a smaller bus and a Jeep while a mechanic attended to the exhausted Priscilla. A pachanga broke out at the building where the Workers’ Defense Project is housed that involved tamales, music and dancing. The party seemed to re-energize they group as they mingled and danced, waiting for the rest of their companions to arrive on the repaired Undocubus.

Julio Cesar Sanchez, who sums himself up as “undocumented and unafraid, queer and unapologetic” is one of the Undocubus riders who intends to complete the full voyage from Phoenix to Charlotte, while others will only participate in parts of the trip.

“The bus says, ‘No papers, no fear’ in Spanish on one side and in English on the other; we’ve tried to make a plan in case we get pulled over by the police or ICE, but we all know there’s the risk that we’ll get pulled over and arrested before getting to a city,” Sanchez says. “So that’s a little bit scary. Simply being on the bus, getting on the bus, is a huge job.” … FULL STORY