Rallying in Support of Illegal Immigrants

Elizabeth Nava came from Florida to march in a rally bringing attention to an immigration bill being considered by Congress.
Elizabeth Nava came from Florida to march in a rally bringing attention to an immigration bill being considered by Congress. (Photos By Katherine Frey -- The Washington Post)
Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ten-year-old Iria Gomez-Garcia is quite an activist. She has spoken in rallies, marched with thousands of people in Washington and talked with members of Congress.

Last week she came from Richmond, Virginia, to join hundreds of kids -- and many more adults -- at a rally to show how families could be separated unless Congress passes a proposed law that would help some immigrants stay in this country legally.

Iria's mom, who is from Guatemala, and her dad, originally from Spain, came to the United States more than a decade ago with permission to stay a short while. After meeting and falling in love, they ended up staying in the country without having permission from the U.S. government to do so.

Now, Iria and her two younger brothers are afraid that immigration authorities will send their parents back to their native countries.

"Without them, I wouldn't have anybody to take care of me, to love me and support me," said Iria, who is an American citizen because she was born in the United States.

More than 3.5 million kids in the United States have one or both parents living in the country illegally, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. In recent months, authorities have been sending more of these immigrants back to their countries. In some cases, this process, called deportation, has resulted in parents and children getting separated.

Freddy Ramos, 12, was born in Silver Spring, and his parents are U.S. citizens who were born in El Salvador. Last week he also marched in front of the White House in support of friends who are afraid of being separated from their parents. "The government should help these people," Freddy said. "They should let them stay here."

Twelve-year-old Monica Camacho agrees. She has lived in Baltimore since she was 7 and is not here legally. She said she would be very sad if she had to go back to Mexico.

"I'd feel like a stranger there," she said in Spanish. "It will be hard to get used to living there again."

Twelve-year-old Leah Patterson, who is American, went to the rally to support her friends. She said children shouldn't have to pay for their parents' mistakes.

"It's not their fault that their parents are not legal," Leah said. "People come to the U.S. because they want to have better lives. They work hard and deserve a chance to become citizens."

-- Luz Lazo

© 2007 The Washington Post Company