Friday, May 1, 2009

Immigrants Marched For Reform, Despite H1N1 Flu Threat

By H. Nelson Goodson
Updated: May 7, 2009

Milwaukee – The May 1st Immigrant March organizers estimated that more than 30 thousand people, including children marched and made their way through downtown Milwaukee last Friday. Voces de la Frontera from Milwaukee sponsored the local march, which was one of many marches across the nation that day.
The Swine Flu (H1N1) threat did little to hold back marchers efforts for immigration reform, but only a few wore protective facemask. Milwaukee Public Schools officials were ordered by city health officials to close at least seven schools as a precaution of probable Swine Flu cases. The closure of the schools allowed parents to take their children to participate in the immigrant march. As of Thursday, Wisconsin confirmed 122 H1N1 cases in Milwaukee County.

Despite a bad economy, inclement weather, concerns about swine flu, and false rumors that the march had been canceled; about 30,000 people joined the Milwaukee May 1 march to support the Obama Administration's recent declarations in support of passing humane immigration reform in 2009 and to express their solidarity with immigrant families and workers.
The march snowballed from 100 to 1,000 to 20,000 to 30,000 as it wound its way from Milwaukee's South side across the 6th street viaduct bridge, through downtown, and into Veteran's Park, according to Voces organizers.

Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera, said, "We need to stay united and work hard to ensure that the people have a voice in the legislative process so that we can achieve a legalization that is dignified of all immigrants in the United States." Voces de la Frontera will be organizing a series of community forums to get input on legislative proposals and an upcoming lobby day at the State Capitol.

Marchers made their way to Veteran’s Park at the lakefront, and sent a strong chanting message, “it’s time for Immigration reform” and wanted U.S. Congress and President Barack Obama to pass legislation. Marchers also wanted federal legislation to prevent judges from separating families and having their U.S. Born children put up for adoption.

In May 2007, Encarnación Bail Romero, a Guatemalan immigrant was arrested along with 136 undocumented immigrants at George’s Processing plant in Butterfield, near Carthage in southwestern Missouri. While detained by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USICE), a privately adoption process was taking place by a couple to have her one year old son named Carlos adopted.

When she received an adoption notice where she was detained. Romero with the aid of a Mexican immigrant be detained with her, a guard and a Guatemalan visitor she, responded "I do not want my son to be adopted by anyone," she scrawled on a sheet of notebook paper on Oct. 28, 2007. "I would prefer that he be placed in foster care until I am not in jail any longer. I would like to have visitation with my son."

Judge David C. Dally of Circuit Court in Jasper County who said in a decree, the couple made a comfortable living, had rearranged their lives and work schedules to provide Carlos a stable home, and had support from their extended family. By contrast, Judge Dally said, Encarnación had little to offer. “The only certainties in the biological mother’s future,” he wrote, “is that she will remain incarcerated until next year, and that she will be deported thereafter.”

Judge Dally failed to order USICE to bring Encarnación to his court during the adoption proceedings. In February, USICE suspended Encarnación’s deportation order, to allow her the opportunity to filed suit to recover custody. Encarnación’s lawyer, John de Leon, of Miami, said his client was never informed of the adoption proceedings in her native Spanish, and had no real legal representation until after the adoption was final.

A national movement by a local immigration rigths activist was initiated last week when he sent an email to the May 1st Immigrant March organizers throughout the nation to gardner support for Encarnación to recover custody. This is only one of many cases undocumented parents are facing today with the broken down immigration system.
Click on photos to enlarge.

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