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Sun, March 24

Editorial: Long past time for immigration reform

It's unfathomable that people would protest deportation of illegal immigrants.

But, that's exactly what happened across the country Saturday when demonstrators rallied in an effort once again to push President Barack Obama to put a freeze on deportations, according to Associated Press reports.

The organizers planned more than 50 "Day of Action" events based on the premise that Obama has executive power to stop deportations that separate immigrants living in the country legally from their loved ones.

Close to home in Eloy, more than 100 supporters gathered in front of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center, because, as one organizer said, many of the people attending the protest have relatives who have been inside this facility for more than a year.

Natally Cruz, an organizer with the grassroots group Puente Arizona, said, "We want President Obama and his administration to really hear our community members across the country, to understand we do not want one more person separated." Cruz entered the U.S. at age 8 illegally with her parents. "One family every night goes to bed missing somebody in their family," she said.

Many walked with signs saying "Not 1 More Deportation" and called for deferred deportation action for all. The group included a woman whose son has been in the Eloy Detention Center for nearly three years and a woman who was arrested at her work and detained for two months, the group said.

Amber Cargile, an ICE spokeswoman in Phoenix, said the agency respects the rights of people to protest outside its facilities.

"While we continue to work with Congress to enact commonsense immigration reform, ICE remains committed to sensible, effective immigration enforcement that focuses on its priorities, including convicted criminals and those apprehended at the border while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States," Cargile said.

In New York City, a crowd of 50, many of them families with children, stood outside the immigration office. Among them was a cab driver from Bangladesh who said he had been held by authorities for more than a year. He now has a permit to work in the U.S. and he hopes to get a green card in the future.

In March, Obama asked Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to review enforcement practices to ease his administration's rate of deportations. During his presidency, almost 2 million people have been deported.

The gist of all this is this: People who are not in this country legally should be deported back. We welcome immigrants from other countries, because they enrich us. We are a melting pot. But, they have to become legal citizens of the United States if they are to stay here.

Holding undocumented immigrants for months on end borders on cruelty.

The overarching question is, why is Congress sitting on immigration reform?

We would all like an answer to that question.


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