Rose Maria Soto is an undocumented immigrant and a mother of five who made the long journey from Arizona to join thousands of other immigrant rights activists in our nation’s capital on Wednesday, April 10 for a rally to call for immigration reform that includes a clear path to citizenship and keeps families together.
Maria came to the United States in 1999 from Mexico after the mom-and-pop store she owned was robbed at gunpoint. She landed in Arizona, where she lived for more than a decade in constant fear of deportation. Soto said she overcame her fears as an undocumented immigrant in the aftermath of the passage of the draconian immigration law SB 1070, which criminalized undocumented migrants. She became active on the issue and joined various pro-migrant organizations before founding her own organization called Parents and Youth in Action which advocates for immigration reform and migrant rights.
Soto and other parents of DREAMers from Arizona joined thousands of other migrant rights activists on Wednesday in letting our elected officials know that now is the time to pass compassionate and humane immigration reform. The rally included faith communities and a contingent of LIRS staff from our Baltimore office.
Soto’s story is not unique; a new report by the University of Arizona shows that our current immigration policy is breaking up families and not deterring repeat border crossing. The report, based on interviews with more than 1,100 undocumented immigrants deported to Mexico over the last six years, suggested that many who crossed the border illegally after having been deported did so to reunite with their families and not for economic motivations. The report also details the harrowing experiences and deadly challenges migrants face crossing the desert with no water or food. Thousands perish just trying to make it across the border. Four hundred and sixty-three migrants were found dead along the Arizona border in 2012 alone. This is why we must push hard for a compassionate immigration reform bill that is strong on family unity.
Arizona is one of the priority states in our quest to educate and mobilize Lutherans to support comprehensive immigration. For more information and action opportunities around immigration reform, please visit http://lirs.org/cir/. To speak out for comprehensive immigration reform, please visit our Action Center.