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Family Unity: 1,500 Call for Reform in El Paso

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On the most recent stop of the Family Unity tour, a national listening tour to hear testimony from families impacted by the nation’s broken immigration system, more than 1,500 people showed up in El Paso, Texas to call for reform, not raids in the immigration debate.

The meeting was led by U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Democrat from Chicago, who stopped in El Paso in the latest of a 17-city tour of the United States aimed at hearing testimonials from immigrant families about how deportations and current U.S. immigration policy is breaking apart households.

“The issue of immigration is a national issue since we have families divided across America,” he said. “Comprehensive immigration reform is going to bring millions of people out of the shadows and into the day, and out of the state of exploitation they’re in.”

The event was held at El Templo de Alabanza church in El Paso. The tour, which was launched by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, is partnering with faith-based community during its multi-stop trek across the country. In El Paso, Luis Gutierrez was greeted by a standing-room only crowd.

During a revival-style presentation with lively religious invocations, three U.S. citizens whose households have been split by deportation told their stories.

Blanca Gonzalez said her nephew was at a farmers market when sheriff’s deputies asked him for his identification, then reported him to immigration officials who began deportation proceedings. People in her community, she said, fear contacting law enforcement when they need help because they might get deported.

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Galindo (pictured above), a pregnant mother of six, said her husband has been at the Otero County Detention Center for almost three months and will be repatriated to Mexico soon. Galindo fears he’ll never make it back to the United States, or that she’ll have take her children to Mexico, where they could starve.And 11-year-old Iván Cadena, who was born in a Las Cruces hospital and has a heart condition, told how his mother was detained for allegedly claiming to be a U.S. citizen when she is not. She did that, he said, because she didn’t understand the English-language document she signed.

“I don’t really feel good when she’s not around. I feel there’s an emptiness in the house,” he said, standing next to his father. “She said that if she crossed the border, she would never see me again.”

These are American citizens whose lives are being torn apart by outdated and broken immigration laws. With everyone from Condoleezza Rice to President Barack Obama to students in California calling for comprehensive immigration reform, don’t you think its time that we got it done? Especially for the sake of families like the ones in El Paso who have suffered for long enough at the hands of broken, Bush-era policies?

I think so.

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