Immigration activists begin week-long protest in Dallas

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on September 2, 2013 at 10:14 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 2 at 10:37 PM

DALLAS — They came to the Dallas offices of U.S. Customs and Immigration with candles, signs, and a guitar. About 50 people gathered, and they didn't plan a loud protest.

It was to be a calm prayer vigil, but police forced them to change their plans.

"Yeah, they said it's dangerous for drivers because we can't have any lights, signs, and we can't even speak," said organizer Marco Malagon.

So they marched to the back of the property, which is surrounded by a tall chain link fence. As the sun went down, they lit candles, sang, and prayed. They prayed for help for broken families, and for an end to what they call broken promises.

"The plight these families feel is real," said Dallas resident Laura Mendoza.

She and others held signs urging the U.S. government to consider families before deporting illegal immigrants.

"I myself am a U.S. citizen, the daughter of immigrant parents," Mendoza said. "And if it wasn't for their risk, I wouldn't have the privilege that I have here living in America, pursing higher education and being the first in my family to go to college."

The vigil lasted several hours on a sticky Labor Day night. Six to eight of those who attended plan to stay all week. They will camp out in a school bus, parked on the street behind the ICE offices.

Romero Luna will be one of the campers, and he said they will also fast.

"This is going to be home for next five to 10 days, until we start receiving some answers from our congressmen," he said.

Congress returns in seven days, which is why they're holding the vigil this week.

Luna said he understands what families go through. "For 20 years I was separated from my mother. She stayed in Mexico. And when I was 13, my dad was deported," Luna explained. "He came back, but I know how it feels."

Luna is 30. He came to Dallas when he was seven, and has lived here ever since.

"I think both parties are to blame," he said of the lack of movement regarding immigration reform. "There's a lot of blame on both sides. It's time they reach across the aisle and do what's best for the immigrant community, and do what's best for the country, which is to pass immigration reform and have a system that works for everybody."

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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