Rally downtown seeks to bring detained Lexington resident home

tharrison@herald-leader.comJuly 25, 2013 

Pedro Santiago's brother Ceferino was detained while trying to cross the border from Mexico as part of a protest, and Pedro wants to bring Ceferino home to Lexington.

To help make that happen, Pedro, 23, and about 30 other family members and friends held a vigil Thursday in Lexington's Courthouse Square.

Ceferino, 21, is originally from Mexico but has lived in Lexington since he was 13. He attended Lafayette High School, where he was honored as a top student-athlete in 2010.

Pedro, who has lived in Lexington since he was 15, said his brother graduated in 2011 and received an award for learning English well enough to qualify to take regular classes without English as a Second Language assistance.

Now, Ceferino is one of nine people held at the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona after trying to cross the border from Mexico on Monday. They are known as the "Dream 9." The name comes from the proposed federal Dream Act, which would provide a path to legalization for young immigrants brought into the country illegally.

Pedro's brother was in Mexico because he needed ear surgery, which his family could not afford in the United States. Pedro is trying to get him back to his family.

"He has nephews here who miss him and want him back here," Pedro said.

The National Immigrant Youth Alliance organized the Dream 9 to protest deportations under President Barack Obama's administration; the nine crossed the border together illegally at the Nogales port of entry in Arizona, according to the New York Times.

Organizers of the protest told the newspaper that several of the nine, who all grew up in the United States, had left the country previously. Two of them had been officially deported. Also according to the newspaper, three of the nine crossed into Mexico voluntarily recently, even though they did not have legal visas to return, in a gesture of civil disobedience.

The protestors had an attorney and legal documents prepared, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Thursday's vigil was part of a national Bring Them Home campaign, also promoted by the youth alliance.

Ceferino's family and friends held the vigil not only for him, but for the whole Dream 9 group. The family wants people to call political representatives and ask them to contact President Barack Obama to get him to let the group come home, Pedro said.

After Pedro read a letter about Cerefino's life in the United States, those at the vigil took turns telling stories about Cerefino.

Tino Martinez, another one of Cerefino's brothers, spoke about his brother during the vigil in both English and Spanish. After the vigil, Martinez, 25, expressed his gratitude for those who came to support them.

"As a brother, I really miss Cefe," Martinez said.

Taylor Harrison: (859) 231-1324. Twitter: @heraldleader

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