“The only ‘no’ we’ll accept, is no more deportations,” explained Tomas Martinez, a member of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR). “The President can’t deny he has the power and the responsibility to stop deportations. We’re being told to wait for reform but waiting is not an option when 1,200 of us are being deported each day”. All seven undocumented migrants from across the country handcuffed themselves to the White House fence to push forward the demand the President stop deportations and tell him they won’t take ‘no’ for an answer despite his comments to Telemundo last night. They were arrested for several hours and now all walked free.
During the dramatic protest, the group announced plans for additional civil disobedience in Arizona next month. Maria Cruz Ramirez of Phoenix, Arizona shared, “When our community loses its fear, we’re capable of anything. My children have taught me that. Until the President stops deportations, we will begin to stop them ourselves. What other option do we have? What would you do if Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) came to take your loved one away?”
(Phoenix, Arizona) – Maria Cruz lives in Phoenix, Arizona and is a mother of 3 undocumented young people who are active in community organizing. In 2011 her two children participated in an act of civil disobedience that led to her own involvement in the movement. In 2012 she was one of the riders of the “Undocubus” traveling across the southern United States working with immigrant communities to challenge criminalization of immigrants. Since then, she has been registering voters, working against deportations, and advocating for immigrant rights with a group of immigrant mothers in Phoenix and the organization Puente Movement.
She came to Washington DC because the fear of deportation is personal. “I have to fight for the future of my children, and for my future. I know that whenever I am working to support them, I am risking being detained and placed in deportation. I don’t want to be separated from my children, so I am here fighting for my future. The hardest part working against deportations is meeting the families and seeing how the children suffer. Your heart can’t let that pass. The most beautiful thing that I have seen is when a person who was in detention gets out and reunites with their family."
(Atlanta, Georgia) – Tomas has lived in Atlanta, GA for 13 years where he is a volunteer organizer with the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, a group that advocates for the rights of immigrants in the state, and where he co-hosts a community radio show, Glahriadores, providing information to the Spanish-speaking community about current events and their rights. He became involved in organizing after his nephew was deported. “Seeing his family broken apart worried about their futures. I realized it could happen to anyone,” he explained.
He came to Washington D.C. to ask President Obama to stop deportations. “We have organized marches, spoken to legislators, signed petitions, made phone calls, but we have to do more. The legacy of undocumented young people and of civil rights in the United States, of people fighting for their rights at whatever cost, shows us we have to continue putting pressure for our communities to be safe. President Obama needs to know the suffering he causes in our communities. He must stop deportations.”
(Atlanta, Georgia) – Maria is a 53-year-old grandmother who has lived in Atlanta Georgia for 12 years where she worked as a cleaner until being injured on the job. She is a volunteer and organizer with the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, advocating for the rights of Latino immigrants in the state. She first became involved in organizing four years ago, working against Secure Communities and 287g programs. She says that as a mother whose son was deported, what hurts is seeing parents without their children and children without parents. She came to Washington D.C. to work for an end to these separations of families. “I am here fighting for our rights. We have to give it our all, whatever happens.”