Immigrant Students Face Deportation After Protest at McCain Arizona Office

Undocumented students are calling on Congress to pass the Dream Act.

ByABC News
May 19, 2010, 11:40 AM

WASHINGTON, May 19, 2010— -- Mohammad Abdollahi, an undocumented Iranian immigrant, takes the finger-pointing in Congress over stalled immigration legislation personally.

The gay Ann Arbor, Michigan, resident, who was brought to the United States illegally when he was 3, now faces deportation to a country he has never known and where homosexuality is a capital crime.

Abdollahi, 24, and two other illegal immigrant students dressed in blue graduation caps and gowns Monday staged a sit-in at the Tucson, Ariz., offices of Sen. John McCain, who has withheld support for legislation that would give conditional path to citizenship for Adbollahi and thousands of immigrants brought here illegally at a young age.

The students, who were allowed to peacefully protest inside the McCain offices all day, were ultimately arrested by local police for criminal trespassing and later transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody. Officials released the trio from detention late Tuesday and initiated deportation proceedings for the weeks ahead.

"It's not only Sen. McCain we're looking for and holding accountable, there's senators all across the country we're holding accountable," Abdollahi said. "We're telling them you've been asking for a long time for somebody to step up and take leadership on this -- none of you have been willing to do so -- so as non-citizens, we've taken that lead."

"McCain was supportive of the Dream Act in the past... we saw him as a champion in some ways, and we hope that comes back," said Abdollahi.

A McCain spokesperson told ABC News the senator will support the so-called "Dream Act" as part of comprehensive immigration legislation but only after the Southwest border with Mexico is "secured."

McCain and fellow GOP Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl have been calling on President Obama to deploy National Guard troops along the border in their state.

McCain is scheduled to meet with four representatives of the Tucson student protesters today to explain his views.

"Elections have consequences, and they [the students] should focus their efforts on the president and the Democrats that control the agenda in Congress," McCain spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said in a statement.

Obama has urged Congress to take up immigration legislation and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said the body has not given up on the agenda item, but neither has committed to a time frame for getting something done.

"We need a Republican, we need Republican support, and McCain is a leader in the Senate," said Lizabeth Mateo, who was also arrested Monday and faces deportation.