Families separated by deportations and pro-immigrant activists call for immigration reform in Chicago in front of the offices of Congressman William W. Lipinski. EFE
Chicago, Feb 25 (EFE).- Families separated by deportations and pro-immigrant activists on Monday here launched a national mobilization effort that will include visits to 90 cities to tell their stories and demand immigration reform.
Organizers predict that in the coming weeks the group will grow to some 500 people participating in seven regional bus tours that will travel some 20,000 miles to visit 100 congressional districts and 30 senators' offices before winding up at the Capitol in Washington on March 13.
The group that departed from Chicago will cover the Great Lakes states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio.
The "Keeping Families Together" tour is being organized by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, which urged the U.S. Senate to have a reform bill ready prior to the March 21 start of the Easter recess.
"We want senators and congressmen to listen to the stories of families separated by deportation, of children left in the care of others because their parents were deported, and of families who don't know if they will be together again one day," said tour spokesperson Kica Matos.
The families gathered in Chicago's Federal Plaza, where they told some of the stories they hope to share during the tour.
Mexican Jose Vera spoke in the name of his 26-year-old brother Juan Carlos, who is at risk of being deported despite being married to a U.S. citizen and having one U.S.-born child and another on the way.
Juan Carlos, who has lived in the Chicago area since he was 11, was arrested for using a false document and on Tuesday he will have a hearing before an immigration judge.
On the bus that left from Chicago is also Jennifer Martinez, a young mother from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, whose husband was deported to Mexico at the end of last year.
Martinez said she has to work two jobs to be able to support her four children "and my heart breaks each time they ask me when their father will come back."