On Monday, August 11, LULAC councils, Elvira Arellano/Familia Latina Unida/La Fuerza Juventud and U.S. citizen children with family from Honduras (and at the border) gathered in front of Chicago ICE headquarters in what has become a weekly “promise watch.” They called for volunteer attorneys in Illinois and around the country to defend the children from the border and continued their demand for President Obama to extend DACA to all.
Elvira Arellano, who herself crossed the border on humanitarian parole five months ago, spoke to the crowd: “The children at the border are not receiving representation or legal council in immigration court. The livelihoods of thousands of children, some as young as 4 or 5, are at stake as they appear before a judge alone – and this is unacceptable. While this continues, so do the deportations. We call on Homeland Security to stop implementation of the secure communities act which results in many deportations due to minor traffic violations. The deportations are responsible in large part for the crisis of the children at the border. Why are we continuing to keep separating families adding to that crisis, especially since the President has already promised to take executive action by the end of summer.”
Arellano was joined by La Fuerza Juventud, Familia Latina Unida, and LULAC councils in support of Andy Imanol Paz, who made the journey from Honduras, and Scarlett and Enrique Bermudez who have siblings and other family members in this position. Scarlett told reporters, “My family did not cross the desert or the border for no reason. They made this journey because their lives are in extreme danger. All I want is to be unified and safe with them in my home country.”
Julie Contreras of LULAC Waukegan spoke about the corrupt nature of some attorneys and our responsibility to fight for proper and fair representation for the children: “Not only do these children not receive representation, many are exploited by predatory lawyers. These lawyers often do not complete the work for their clients but still charge thousands of dollars. The Latino community must stand together to make sure these young children and their families are not targeted in this way. We must stay diligent in defending them while also partnering with fair and decent attorneys who will serve them.”
Familia Latina Unida and LULAC will hold a workshop with volunteer lawyers for the children in Waukegan on Sunday, August 24th. Familia Latina Unida/La Fuerza Juventud also continued their summer long voter registration drive at this demonstration. The youth group plans on registering 1,000 of the 900,000 citizen Latinos who will turn 18 this year. They also plan on returning in front of ICE (101 W Congress) each Monday until President Obama fulfills his promise of executive action.