I hear and see stories like this on a daily basis.
It was driven by politics. Do not forget there is an election coming up.
It does nothing to secure our borders, fight crime, or to stop the drug trade.
It is ruining good peoples lives. It is tearing their families apart. Some even have to leave their children behind when they are deported.
Is this humane?
Do the Xtians not care about their fellow man, or Gods children
If you do not care about the adults, at least think about the children.
These are hard working people that believe in God, and America.
They are not criminals. Shame on the people that back this cruelty to their fellow human being.
These people do the work that Americans will no longer do. No matter what their color is.
We were once a great and generous nation with open hearts and minds. Driven by love, charity, and compassion for the less privileged.
Now we have become a scared, hateful, nation. Driven by the mind set that 'I have mine, the hell with every one else'. This is not a natural way to live in a global society.
Let these people come out of the shadows so that they can live, work, and go to church with the rest of society. I promise you they will be good Americans. Probably better than most of you who were by the grace of God fortunate to have been born here.
If this story, and many others like it does not move you or make you weep.
If it does not make you want to promote a comprehensive immigration reform plan that is just for one and all.
Then may you be found buried in the desert with just your head sticking out covered in honey. May the creatures of the desert do to you what you are doing to these peoples hearts and souls.
I will gladly pour the honey!
Undocumented couple leave SB 1070 behind
by Daniel González - Jun. 27, 2010 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
A white Ford pickup with Arizona plates is driving north on U.S. 191 headed for the Utah border. Afraid of encountering police, the family inside is traveling at night. The pickup's headlights cut through a sea of darkness.
The family is in a hurry to get out of Arizona, to get away from the state's harsh new immigration law.
The pickup crosses into Utah at 11:59 p.m. Luis Sanchez breathes a sigh of relief as his wife, Marlen Ramirez, keeps driving. Both are undocumented immigrants from Mexico.
"Look," he says. "We are here. We have arrived in Utah."
They have made it safely out of Arizona, past the Maricopa County sheriff's deputy they saw as they were leaving Surprise and past the highway patrol cars they saw along Interstate 17 between Phoenix and Flagstaff.
They still have a long way to their final destination: Pennsylvania. There will be engine troubles along the way. And more police. And frayed nerves.
But the hardest part of the nearly 2,700-mile journey will be the end. Their final destination is where starting their lives over begins.
Feeling like prisoners
Luis and Marlen, both 33, lived in Arizona for more than 15 years. They are from the same small town, Xaltianguis, in southern Mexico, but they met while living at the same West Valley apartment complex.
Luis was 17 when he crossed the border illegally near Douglas. Marlen was 16 when she jumped a fence near Nogales. Both came looking for work.
Their three children are U.S. citizens because they were born in Arizona. The oldest, Luis Jr., is a quiet 13-year-old. Vanessa, 10, wears glasses and loves to talk. The baby, Christian, is 2.
Lawyers have told Luis and Marlen that they do not qualify for legal residency.
Luis has washed dishes at a restaurant on Grand Avenue, at a retirement home in Peoria and at a restaurant in Sun City West. For the past four years, he worked as a landscaper for a company that maintains office buildings in the West Valley. He earned $9.80 an hour. Marlen is a stay-at-home mom.
Luis got his jobs using fake papers. He has managed to keep working despite the recession and Arizona's employer-sanctions law, which have made it much harder for illegal immigrants to get jobs.
The couple started thinking about leaving Arizona when Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio began conducting his crime sweeps two years ago, saturating largely Latino neighborhoods with deputies, stopping vehicles for minor traffic violations and arresting illegal immigrants. The couple said the sweeps made them feel like prisoners. They used to enjoy spending Sundays at the park. But to avoid the police, they started staying home as much as possible.
The day after Gov. Jan Brewer signed Arizona's new immigration law on April 23, Luis and Marlen decided to leave.
They are not alone.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of families have fled Arizona, abandoning homes and apartments in already struggling neighborhoods. Many more are planning to leave. Some have returned to Mexico. Many are relocating to neighboring states, many of which may soon try to adopt laws similar to Arizona's.
Luis and Marlen picked Pennsylvania. They have relatives there who say there is plenty of work.
Arizona's new immigration law makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally. It states that an officer engaged in a lawful stop, detention or arrest shall, when practicable, ask about a person's legal status when reasonable suspicion exists that the person is in the U.S. illegally. It takes effect July 29.
Supporters of the law say it does not allow racial profiling. But Luis and Marlen are unconvinced. They think that once the law takes effect, police in Arizona will stop anyone who looks Mexican to check their papers. They fear they would be deported, their children left behind.
They built a life and a family in Arizona, so the thought of leaving brought them and their children to tears. But to them, the alternative was even worse.
"That is why we decided to leave, before something happens," Luis said.
Troubles on the road
Luis and Marlen plan to drive straight through to Pennsylvania, stopping only every so often to sleep a few hours. They want to get there as quickly as possible to avoid being caught by authorities. They also can't afford to stay at motels each night, and every day on the road is money lost because Luis isn't working.
But soon after entering Utah on June 8, there is trouble. Their neighbors, also undocumented immigrants, are following them in a 20-year-old Jeep Cherokee with 183,000 miles. The Jeep's engine is starting to overheat. The driver, Daniel Diaz, 22, pulls over in the darkness and pops the hood. The radiator hisses loudly. A cloud of steam billows out. Daniel thinks his car is overloaded with the belongings of his three passengers, Ruben Rosario, 33, Ruben's wife, Betty Cabrera, 34, and the couple's U.S.-born daughter, Alondra, who will be 2 in September.
Daniel and Ruben try lightening the load. They toss a suitcase stuffed with clothes and a cooler filled with food. Daniel even chucks the spare tire before reconsidering and putting it back.
Luis takes a hard look at the engine. Then he scoots under the Jeep to get a better look. The water pump is busted, he thinks. So the men start twisting off caps from bottles of drinking water and pouring them into the radiator. A moment passes. Then the water just leaks out.
It is past 1 a.m. The highway is empty. Luis and the others worry that if they stay here, they might draw the attention of the police.
They decide to take their chances and keep driving, broken water pump and all.
Need to travel light
Luis and Marlen prepared for the trip for weeks. They took the pickup to a mechanic and spent $450 on new tires. They held a yard sale to winnow their belongings and make some money. They boxed some belongings and mailed them ahead. Their plan was to travel as light as possible. A pickup overflowing with televisions and furniture might draw the attention of police.
But the yard sale was a bust. The first day, they made just $30. Luis and Marlen chalked it up to the new law. Many of their neighbors were in the same situation, undocumented immigrants either leaving or planning to leave. So no one was buying anything. Luis and Marlen ended up throwing away most everything they owned. Televisions, VCRs, a stereo system, bedroom furniture, mattresses, dressers, a leather sofa, kitchen table - all dumped in the trash bins at their apartment complex.
Preparations were difficult for the children, as well.
On the last day of school, Luis Jr. and Vanessa told everyone they would not be coming back. Some of their classmates cried. Others said they were leaving Arizona, too.
At home, the tears continued.
Luis and Marlen had told Vanessa that they would bring their Chihuahua, Brandy, and her puppies. On moving day, the 10-day-old puppies were still nursing. They hadn't opened their eyes.
Just before leaving, Luis and Marlen broke the news: The dogs would have to stay and would be given to another family. Vanessa turned her head. Tears ran down her face.
The caravan heads north on U.S. 191, stopping finally at a Mobil in White Mesa, a tiny community of Ute Indians. It is 1:30 in the morning. The gas station is closed. Luis and the others decide there is nothing to do but sleep.
At 6 a.m., the station opens. The cashier says there is a repair shop 10 miles away in Blanding, a Mormon settlement. But the mechanic there is too backed up to work on the Jeep. He suggests a shop on the other side of town.
By 10:30 a.m., the water pump is fixed. The bill is $252.60. Daniel hands the mechanic $253 in cash, money pooled with help from Luis and Ruben.
Will the Jeep make it to Pennsylvania?
"I don't see why not," the mechanic says, tightening the last bolt. "I've seen much worse cars make it that far."
The Friday before they left, Luis picked up his last paycheck. On Saturday, he also cut three lawns, the last of the weekend side business he ran with the help of Marlen and the children. They informed their clients they would not be returning. One of the houses had a sign on the front lawn, an award from a homeowner's association for having the best-kept yard. The sign made Luis and Marlen proud. So they took photos of themselves and the kids in front of it.
That Sunday, they had one last cookout. Luis grilled carne asada in the dirt courtyard outside their apartment while neighbors and friends grabbed sodas and Coronas from a cooler. Luis and Marlen tried to look happy. But it was times like these they were going to miss.
Of the eight apartments that share the courtyard, one was already empty. It belonged to Luis' brother and Marlen's sister, who are married to each other, and their two children. They moved to Pennsylvania two months ago. Soon, three more apartments would be empty. One belonging to Luis and Marlen, one belonging to Ruben and Betty, and one belonging to Daniel, the owner of the Jeep.
Luis and Marlen decided to leave at 5 p.m. As the hour approached, neighbors and friends stopped by to say goodbye.
Just before they left, Luis gathered his family in the kitchen, empty except for the santitos on a little altar. They said a short prayer and crossed themselves on the forehead. Luis and Marlen handed out the Catholic saints and, one by one, the travelers filed out of the apartment in tears. Daniel wrapped his arms around his father, Gilberto, 48. The father and son stayed locked in embrace for a long time. Daniel was heading to Pennsylvania, his father back to Mexico, way south to Chiapas. They had no idea if they would ever see each other again.
Marlen placed the Santo Niño de Atocha, a little pilgrim depicting the boy Jesus, on the front seat and started the pickup. The courtyard was filled with neighbors and friends. They were all crying. Luis climbed in the passenger seat and turned on the stereo. He cranked up an upbeat Mexican corrido to lighten the mood.
The pickup and the Jeep make it through the Rocky Mountains without trouble. On Wednesday night, the families stop at a little motel 30 miles past Denver and rent rooms for $60 a night. They sleep until 3:30 a.m. and are back on the highway by 4.
The trip is going smoothly now.
But in Iowa they have a scare. Driving east on Interstate 70, a blue Ford Crown Victoria pulls alongside the Jeep. Daniel's heart is pounding. The state trooper in the unmarked car is looking over at him and talking on his radio. The patrol car zooms ahead, pulling alongside the pickup. It's obvious the trooper is running the Arizona plates. The trooper seems like he is about to turn on his lights any second. But instead he speeds away.
At the next rest area, the pickup and the Jeep get off the highway.
Daniel tells Luis how nervous he was.
"It's best to stay calm," Luis tells him.
Plenty of work
One of Luis' brothers moved to Pennsylvania eight years ago. He has his own landscaping business. Another brother works with him. Luis was told there would be plenty of work for all three.
Marlen's sister cleans houses in Pennsylvania. She told Marlen there is plenty of work for her, too.
Luis' brothers told him they are less afraid of being turned over to immigration authorities by the police in Pennsylvania. But the state may not be as welcoming as they think.
In 2006, the mayor of Hazelton, in eastern Pennsylvania, declared that he wanted to make the city the toughest place on illegal immigrants in America. That year, the city passed an ordinance aimed at barring illegal immigrants from working or renting homes. A federal judge struck down the ordinance the following year.
Then, in 2008, a group of youths beat to death a 25-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico in the town of Shenandoah.
Now, some Pennsylvania lawmakers say they want to pass an immigration law similar to Arizona's.
No one knows how many undocumented immigrants will eventually leave Arizona. But anecdotal evidence suggests that many families are going to other parts of the United States, not returning to their own countries.
"If things are bad here, they are much worse in Mexico," said Salvador, an undocumented immigrant who has lived in Arizona for 18 years. He is the godfather of Luis' daughter, Vanessa.
"There is no work in Mexico," Salvador said. "And then you have to deal with the sicarios," he said, referring to the hit men who carry out assassinations for the drug cartels. Salvador knows Mexican families moving to Oregon, California, Texas, Chicago, New York.
Despite the lack of jobs and the violence, Luis and Marlen say they considered returning to Mexico. But their children balked.
"They cried," Marlen said. "They got mad."
The children consider the United States their country. Not Mexico, she said.
The caravan reaches Pennsylvania at 3:56 p.m. on Friday. The two families have traveled 2,254 miles in 68 hours through nine states and three time zones. But Pennsylvania is a huge state. They still have hours of driving. There are rolling hills and dense forests. Instead of desert brown, everything is emerald green.
Arriving in Pennsylvania is bittersweet. Luis and Marlen have been crying a lot in the car. They are excited to see their relatives. But they know there is little chance of going back to Arizona. And soon the hard part will begin. Beginning new jobs. Getting an apartment. Making new friends. Starting over. Marlen makes a vow. If she ever gets her green card, she will return to Arizona.
At 9:45 p.m., Luis pulls into a rest area. He calls his brother, who says he should keep driving. Marlen thinks that is a bad idea. For the past half hour, Luis has been dozing off behind the wheel. She wants him to sleep. Luis is so tired he can hardly think. He spreads his map on the hood of the pickup. His brother tells him they are only 40 minutes away. But Luis' GPS, a going-away gift from a friend, and the map say they are more like 90 minutes away. Against Marlen's wishes, Luis keeps going.
The last hour and a half seem like an eternity. But they finally reach the exit. They make a few turns then drive through the center of a quaint town lined with mom-and-pop stores. This is their new home.
It is now 12:25 Saturday morning. Luis makes a final left turn, entering a sprawling apartment complex with green lawns, three-story brick buildings, and a community swimming pool, a vast improvement from the complex they left in Arizona.
Everyone piles out in the parking lot. They hug each other and their relatives and cry.
Inside the apartment, Luis finds his mother, who moved to Pennsylvania two months ago. She puts her arms around Luis and hugs him for a very long time. Then she whispers in his ear: "Gracias a Dios, llegaron seguros."
Thanks to God, you made it safely.