Watch video, above, by Pan Left Productions in Tucson
Photos by Brenda Norrell
By Brenda Norrell
TUCSON -- After a morning ceremony, walkers marched to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, headquarters here in the cold light rain, to deliver their petitions. Undocumented individuals, their families and supporters petitioned Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to immediately close their immigration cases.
Today walkers marched to end the fear of their families being torn apart by deportation, and being separated from their children, parents, spouses and other loved ones.
The petitioners presented ICE with extensive evidence of their ties and contributions to the Tucson community. All qualify for deferred action under President Obama’s guidelines, yet their cases remain open. At any moment, they could be torn from their homes and loved ones, No More Deaths said in a press statement.
Mario Gamez, Tucson father of five and one of the petitioners, said, “We want to talk about the community and how families are affected by deportation. People are separated from their children, husbands, and wives. We are here today to make sure that President Obama’s promises are kept.”
In June 2011, the Obama administration announced new guidelines shifting immigration enforcement away from “low-priority” cases.
Nearly 300,000 cases are currently awaiting review by the immigration courts; given this immense backlog, the Department of Homeland Security has instructed its agents to identify individuals whose deportations are not in the Administration’s interest to pursue. DHS agents are to conduct case-by-case reviews—considering a number of factors including length of time in the country, family ties, and educational background—and have the authority to close cases deemed “low priority.” While this does not automatically grant legal status, it can provide immediate and badly needed relief to those who qualify.
Implementation of these enforcement priorities has been uneven at best. Across the country, many who qualify for deferred action continue to face the threat of deportation and separation from their families. No More Deaths and Keep Tucson Together would like to see immigration relief for all those facing the threat of deportation and detention in the broader Tucson community.
Among the 50 petitioners are the parents of 54 U.S. citizen children, three spouses of United States citizens, and six families with multiple members facing deportation. Many would qualify for the DREAM Act and some are themselves children, the youngest being 8 years old.
DREAMer Jose Christian Ramirez-Moreno, 20, was among those today.
“This is important because it could open a lot of doors for people like me, who don’t have papers but who want to keep on studying and fighting for this country," Ramirez-Moreno said.