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Promise Arizona pushes forward: #Not1More
July 11, 2014
A couple dozen demonstrators gathered Thursday afternoon at the Interstate 10 overpass on Seventh Street in downtown Phoenix to hang a banner over the busy freeway urging President Barack Obama to “stop separating Phoenix families” and push Congress for immigration reform.
The protest was an effort of Promise Arizona, a non-profit group that aims to improve the lives of immigrant families and push for new legislation surrounding the issue.
"We want to show Arizona and Congress that this is reality," said event organizer Nora Realzola. "This is what’s happening because of these separations."
The group’s banner read: “Stop Separating Families. #Not1More.”
Demonstrator Anita Ritter, 73, recalled growing up in a divided Arizona.
After her parents immigrated from Mexico, Ritter said she and her siblings were segregated from White children their age and forced to attend school with only Hispanic students. Teachers would discourage the children from speaking Spanish at all, she said.
"They would punish us even if I was giving a simple message to my brother or sister," Ritter recalled.
Growing up, much of her family struggled to stay in the United States. At one point, she said, an immigration official tore up her uncle’s Arizona birth certificate. Now, with a family of her own, she wants to stand up for parents who can’t stand up for themselves.
"These parents are here for a better life," Ritter said. "That’s what they came for, to make a better life for their families. Being a mother of four children, 18 grandkids, and 16 great grandkids, I understand."
Selena Hernandez, 12, was also passionate about changing governmental attitudes toward immigration.
"It’s frustrating to see this happen," Hernandez said. "We want Obama start putting pressure on congressmen."
In recent days, Obama has made significant calls to Congress to approve billions of dollars in response to the tens of thousands of South American children being dropped off at the Texas border. But the protesters on Thursday said the president isn’t doing enough to address the issues.
Hernandez joined Promise Arizona after several of her cousins were forced to return to Mexico when she was 8 years old.
"It’s hard seeing them leave you, because you can no longer visit them," she said.
Another protester, 19-year-old Alejando Uribe, said his cousins are currently shielded under deferred action but he worries that they will be deported.
"Every day, all you hear about is families getting separated," Uribe said. "It upsets me. What if this happened to my family? How would I cope with that?"
From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go.
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