Undocumented Students Face Down Georgia Sheriff

Jessica Lee Mar 3, 2010

 LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga.—Four immigrant students walked into Gwinnett County Courthouse March 3 wearing shirts reading “undocumented” and demanded to speak with Sheriff R.L. “Butch” Conway about the need to reform the U.S. immigration system.

The four students from Florida Felipe Matos, Gaby Pacheco, Carlos Roa and Juan Rodriguez — are walking 1,500 miles from Miami, Fl. to Washington, D.C., in a five-month campaign named “Trail of Dreams” to raise attention about the current immigrant condition and to pressure President Barack Obama and Congress to take up comprehensive immigration reform.

The students were not detained by the sheriff’s office. If the students had been arrested, they could have faced deportation.

Conway has been a vocal proponent of “287(G),” a federal prevision authorizing local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws.  The Trail of Dreams says that this policy has resulted in the deportation of hundreds of immigrants from Gwinnett County in just the past three months — policies that the student walkers say are oppressive and discriminatory. 


“We’re not scared of Sheriff Conway,” said Rodriquez, 20, in a March 2 press release. “Local enforcement of federal policies like the one Sheriff Conway is proudly implementing are proof of the need for real immigration reform. These policies have the long-term effect of criminalizing immigrants — the vast majority of whom are here only to work hard and provide for their families.”


For more information, read “Walking the Dream” Immigrant College Students Push for Reform” published Jan. 29 in The Indypendent and visit

Trail of Dream Walkers


PHOTO: Four immigrant college students are trekking 1,500 miles in a five-month campaign from Miami to Washington, D.C., to rally in support of “education, not deportation” for undocumented youth and their families. COURTESY: EVA GRAY

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