A religious dance group, wearing traditional Aztec costumes, performs outside Phoenix City Hall as families protesting deportations hold signs around them.
Capitol visits with Arizona legislators, a citizenship fair and a day of phone banking are planned for Monday
They gathered together at several locations around Phoenix on Sunday with a simple message: Keep the families of undocumented immigrants together.
Sunday’s scheduled events included a children’s procession from Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church to Phoenix City Hall and the Arizona State Capitol and a Tent City ceremony recognizing those caught in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s immigration raids. An overnight vigil was planned at the state Capitol.
Capitol visits with Arizona legislators, a citizenship fair and a day of phone banking are planned for Monday.
Immigrant rights advocacy group Promise Arizona organized the two days of actions, marking El Dia de los Niños and May Day, said David Ayala, state field director.
The events were planned Sunday and Monday in Phoenix as part of the “Rise Up, National Day of Action” with similar events scheduled in about 130 cities across the country.
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A march from the Immaculate Heart church started around 2:30 p.m. Sunday with more than 100 children and parents. They were dressed in white, carried white balloons and held signs that said “Keep families together” and “We rise up.”
“The first thing that we want is peace,” said Francisco Ocampo, as he walked from the church to city hall, wearing an orange mask that resembled a cat.
“What we want is the same equal rights for all the people who come from Latin America. We only want to work in this country. We don’t want to cause trouble.”
Outside Phoenix City Hall on Sunday afternoon, about 70 people gathered with some wearing traditional Native American clothing.
Petra Falcon, executive director of Promise Arizona, said the children of undocumented immigrants are fearful of their parents being deported at any moment.
“They’re worried about their mom and dad not being there to pick them up from school. They’re worried about their mom and dad not being there at night … that they might not see them again,” she said.
The goal is to send a message of hope and unity, said Claudia Faudoa, an organizer for Promise Arizona.
“That’s why we’re here today. All these kids represent the kids whose parents (are) being separated by the broken immigration system. We want to keep our families together.”
Andrea, 9, didn’t want her last name used but wanted to speak on behalf of her family,
“I want people to know we are standing up to injustices,” she said as she stood outside Phoenix City Hall with her mother, aunt and nephew. “We don’t want families to be separated because that’s what’s happening since the new president came in.”
Late Sunday afternoon, about 40 people gathered on the lawn outside the Arizona State Capitol. Children ran around laughing, playing tag and eating ice cream.
Bellem Salgado, 17, was one of the event’s organizers. Her mother is an undocumented immigrant, she said, and “I don’t want to come home one day and not have her there.”
She longs for a day when she won’t have such worries.
“This is the future of America,” she said. “We won’t stop fighting until we win this.”
Tens of thousands of people were scheduled to march in cities around the country, including Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Milwaukee and New York, said Ayala, the state field director.
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