The letters are simple, but the messages are strong.
“I don’t think that’s fair. I really think they should keep the parents here. Would it be fair if we took the American kids’ parents?” says one in reference to the deportation of immigrant parents.
Several kids, adolescents and young men and women, many of them sons and daughters of immigrant parents — with some of them facing deportation orders — gathered at the offices of Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional in Panorama City on Tuesday, Feb. 24, to write letters to the House Judicial Committee Hearing on the Unconstitutionality of Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration.
Among the programs announced by President Barack Obama is the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which includes all those who came to the United States before the age of 16, regardless of their current age, and Deferred Action for Parents of Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). Both measures would benefit an estimated five million undocumented immigrants.
However, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, Texas, temporarily blocked Obama’s executive actions on Feb. 16, impeding those immigration measures from taking effect. The expansion of DACA was to start on Feb. 18. DAPA was to begin in May.
Hanen issued his ruling in light of a lawsuit brought by 26 states arguing that the President lacked the authority to carry out the initiatives announced last Nov. 20. This week, the White House indicated that it will appeal the decision as it believes the initiative is legally justified as an exercise of prosecutorial discretion since the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) lacks the funding to deport the 12 million people estimated to be in the U.S. illegally. However, no one knows how long the judicial process could take.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association believes the government will prevail, and that the DAPA and new DACA guidelines will be implemented. For those who are eligible under the new guidelines, they recommend applicants gather their documents and save money for when the benefits start.
Worries And Uncertainties
Hanen’s decision has shattered dreams for thousands hoping to come out of the shadows, and renewed worries and uncertainties about deportation for their loved ones.
Such is the case of Sandra Zamorano, a 20-year-old U.S. citizen from Pacoima and mother of 1-year-old Isaac Guerrero.
Zamorano’s father and husband, both undocumented, face deportation orders. She was hoping to petition for both of them, but other, better options would be DACA for her husband and DAPA for her father. Those who qualify for the programs can have their deportation orders postponed while they apply for the benefits.
“This program that Obama announced will cancel my father and husband’s order of deportation. I’m worried because we don’t know if it’s going to take a year, two years. I hope they act fast and do complete the Executive Action,” said Zamorano, who joined other youngsters in writing letters to Congressmen and Hanen asking them to reverse their decision and allow the immigration benefits to take effect.
Zamorano works for an insurance company but said her husband is head of the household.
“Without him it’s going to be difficult to pay for things,” she said.
Children Have Feelings
Gloria Saucedo, director of Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional, said they’re trying to send as many letters as they can “because we have power (of the people)” and need to use that power.
“We were very happy with Obama when he passed the Executive Action because the families can be together and not fear deportation,” she said. “We’re very upset with the governors of the different states (who brought the lawsuit). This is only because the President is black. Because if it was a white President, they would accept anything. It’s about the color of the skin and we can’t permit that.
“The children are going to write letters to the Congress and tell them what their feelings are. Sometimes we don’t listen to the children, but they have feelings,” Saucedo said.
Children like Angel Campos, 11, a student at Valor Academy Charter School in Arleta.
He wrote a letter for President Obama and Republican Congressmen.
“I’m Mexican and I feel that Mexican kids should have their parents with them just like American kids have parents with them,” Campos said.
“It’s important for me to write this letter because a lot of parents are being deported. It’s not fair for the kids,” said Joceline Bojorquez, 14, a student at Fulton College Prep in Van Nuys. “My mom and dad are not from here and I wish they had papers, they’re from Mexico.”
The letter writing campaign is also part of a week-long effort, including vigils and other actions, that culminate with a march in support of DACA and DAPA.
The march takes places on Saturday, Feb. 28, at noon at the corner of Broadway Street and Olympic Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles.