Father Joe Gurdack, whose Manchester parish includes immigrants from many countries, was one of the speakers.Photo: AFSC / Arnie Alpert
A local songwriter who calls himself "El Mayito" performed two original songs.Photo: AFSC / Arnie Alpert
While President Obama has been calling for changes in the nation’s immigration laws, his administration has been deporting more than 1,000 people every day for an appalling total expected to reach 2 million this week. That’s why 40 people rallied outside a Nashua, New Hampshire church this morning to demand “not one more deportation.”
With messages chalked on the sidewalks, music, chants, and speeches in Spanish and English, they joined a nationwide “day of action.”
Franklyn Rosario told the crowd he had been deported for overstaying his student visa. Now he’s back, raising his family in New Hampshire. Deportees may be “the next doctor or the next lawyer,” he said.
Octavio, a native of Mexico, said immigration police took him from his home while he was giving his little girl a bath. When he was deported, his family hoped to reunite in Mexico, but the grave illness of his youngest child forced his wife to return with the girl for medical treatments. After substantial effort, Octavio was able to overcome what was initially a 10-year ban on re-entry to the U.S. and win a temporary visa to join his own family, all of whom are U.S. citizens.
Participants in today’s rally know that there are all too many families like Octavio’s, broken up by a cruel deportation machine.
Maggie Fogarty of AFSC’s New Hampshire Program pointed out that the U.S. Congress has mandated that 34,000 immigrant prison beds be kept full, at a cost to taxpayers of $164 a day for each prisoner. With many of those cells in privately owned prisons and others in county lock-ups that have grown to depend on the flow of federal dollars, the detention bed mandate serves as a driving factor behind detentions and deportations. “We call on Congress to stop funding the detention bed mandate,” Fogarty said.
“The Obama Administration has the authority to stop deportations, and they should do so at once,” she added.
Slogans chalked on the sidewalks included “Migration is a Human Right” and “Keep Families Together.”
Today’s rally was sponsored by AFSC, the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, and the Immigration Working Group of the United Church of Christ NH Conference.
Eva Castillo of NH AIR served as emcee and announced that another rally for immigrants’ rights will take place at Nashua City Hall on May 1.