» This Story:Read +|Watch +| Comments

Raids throw shadow over immigration reform rally

Discussion Policy
Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 22, 2010

In the VIP section behind the big stage with a majestic view of the U.S. Capitol, Esvin Blanco, Oved Vigil and Edwin Mazariegos showed the ankle bracelets they must wear beneath their baggy jeans so U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement can keep track of them before they face possible deportation in coming weeks.

This Story
View All Items in This Story
View Only Top Items in This Story

Onstage a few yards away, Carlos Luna wore an American flag as a cape in support of his brother, Mauricio, caught in the same series of raids 11 days ago. And Cesar Guanoquiza took the microphone to make his public speaking debut, in honor of a nephew, a brother and a cousin who were detained.

"We are not criminals," Guanoquiza declared. "We are workers here to push this country forward!"

Last week, the detainees had been behind bars in Maryland on suspicion of immigrating illegally to this country. But on Sunday afternoon during the March for America, they were hailed by cheering thousands on the Mall as the human face of the need for immigration reform.

There is, of course, another view.

"I understand why they use people like this as props," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, as word spread before the march that newly released detainees would be featured in the program.

"We've made immigration policy for too long on these wrenching anecdotes," said Krikorian, who favors tighter restrictions on immigration.

Victim, criminal, hard-working breadwinner -- the illegal immigrant is the ambiguous symbol at the heart of the debate. And raids, in which immigration agents burst into workplaces and arrest suspected illegal immigrants, are the point at which the debate ceases to be abstract. Lines are drawn, sympathy must take sides.

The recent raids at two popular Maryland restaurants and other locations have created human and economic ripple effects that have washed over immigrant and American families from the Washington region to Central and South America. The implications even reached the Obama administration, where officials scrambled to explain the timing of the actions taking place on the home turf of pro-immigration activists, who were in the midst of planning the march.

One of the themes they had settled upon: "Stop the raids."

The three immigrants wearing ankle bracelets couldn't stay for the whole march. The bracelets' batteries were running low. If they didn't recharge them, immigration agents would be after them again.

The first time had been enough.


CONTINUED     1                 >


» This Story:Read +|Watch +| Comments

More From Style

[Click Track]

Blogs

Style writers riff on pop music, comics and other topics.

[advice]

Advice

Get words of wisdom from Carolyn Hax, Ask Amy, Miss Manners and more.

[Reliable Source]

Reliable Source

Columnists Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts dish dirt on D.C.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company