“Obama don’t take my parents away”, a group of women and children marched yesterday in downtown
25 de noviembre, 2011|
By Agustin Duran.
Los Angeles, CA.- A group of Latina women, most of them mothers and immigrants instead of going shopping or cooking for their love ones for their Thanksgiving dinner, they marched yesterday in downtown Los Angeles asking the federal government to stop the separations of their families.
With signs that read: “Today 46,000 parents cannot have dinner with their children,” and “Obama don’t take my parents away,” the group started walking on Broadway and Olympic at 10 am to the federal building (a mile away) where they set a table with a turkey and empty chairs.
“The empty chairs symbolize the absent parents that have been deported,” said Rosa Posada from the Woman Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights.
“Who are we going to cook for if the government is tearing our families apart?” said Posada. “Today is a family day, but our families are broken, our kids are suffering and we are struggling to pay the rent and put food on the table. What is left for us to celebrate?”
According to the Applied Research Center (ARC), which publishes Colorlines.com, at least 5,100 children whose parents are detained or deported are currently in foster care around the United States. In the fiscal year 2011, the United States deported a record-breaking 397,000 people.
But in the first six months of this year, the federal government removed more than 46,000 mothers and fathers of U.S., citizen children, according to the report.
Most of those deportations are as a result of Secure Communities program that was launched in 2008 and allows local police agencies to investigate the legal status of all their detainees, however, in many cases the people who have been arrested are for traffic violations, but they still get deported.
In 2008 Secure Communities began with 15 jurisdictions under former president George Bush but by March 2011 under the Obama administration, the program has expanded to over 1,210 jurisdictions. However, U.S Immigration Enforcement Custom (ICE) is looking to have all 3,1,41 agencies in the whole country by 2013.
The Gonzalez brothers and sisters (19, 18, 13 and 12) were part of the group that yesterday didn’t have a Thanksgiving dinner with their whole family because their father was deported 18 months ago and their mother has been working extra hours to make up for the income needed to pay the bills.
“Our lives changed 360 degrees overnight”, said Vanessa, 19, who stopped going to school because she now takes care of her little brothers. “My mom is working from Monday through Saturday and on Sunday everybody goes to sell fruit. So she does not take a day off and we do not see her as much as before.”
Gonzalez said that her 18 year old brother is the one that worries her the most because his grades have lowered as never before and instead of graduating, he may be sent to an adult school to finish his high school.
William Torres a spoke person from the coalition said that they decided to walk yesterday because it is a day where all the American families get together to celebrate, but in contrast thousands of Latino families despite working in this country for years, have American children, and have done their best to respect and follow the law, they would not be able to do the same.
“We want our message to be loud and heard by congress and the president; to do what they can to stop the separations of families”, said Torres.
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