Blog Archive

Friday, October 1, 2010

Students help stop deportation

UA and Tucson community members saw success in their week-long efforts to defer the deportation of a...
By Brenna Goth
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Published: Friday, September 24, 2010

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Wednesday evening that Alfonso Morales-Macias, a father of two who has lived in Tucson for 20 years, would not be deported to Mexico on Friday as scheduled.

Morales-Macias was granted deferred action and will be able to live in the United States legally for one year with a work visa, according to Mel Rodis, a volunteer who organized press conferences and phone banking on his behalf. He may also be able to renew this visa.

Rodis said the news was exciting to Morale-Macias and his anxious family.

"They all screamed and hugged each other," Rodis said. "It was a beautiful moment."

Morales-Macias was working at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., when the U.S. Border Patrol arrested him during a nighttime raid in September of 2007, according to a press release for a community rally against his deportation.

Morales-Macias was held in detention but posted an immigration bond, according to the press release. The bond allowed him to continue living with his family in Tucson.

"I am not a criminal. I am a husband, a father, a hard worker and a good citizen in every sense of the word except the fact that I do not have a paper to prove it," Morales-Macias wrote in his statement requesting a stay of deportation. He also noted he owns his house and included copies of recent income tax returns in his statement.

Morales-Macias' deportation would have required him to leave his wife and two children.

His daughter, Ana, is an 18-year-old senior at Sunnyside High School. She said she dreams of going to the UA to become a veterinarian.

She said Tuesday afternoon that the scheduled deportation made it difficult to concentrate on schoolwork.

"Well, it's been really hard," Ana Morales-Macias said. "It's been difficult not knowing what's going to happen."

She asked for the help of the community on Wednesday.

"Just to help us so they don't deport my dad," Ana Morales-Macias said. "So that he can be here, and so that he can see me graduate this year."

Now that dream can happen.

Members of the Tucson community organized press conferences and events urging people to call and fax Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. Both parties have the power to stop deportations.

Geography graduate student Sarah Launius helped with publicity and recruiting participants.

"More often than not, people like Alfonso (Morales-Macias) are referred to in terms of numbers. We don't know his name. We don't know he's our neighbor," Launius said. "There's an element of that breaking down of barriers."

Hannah Hafter, a UA alumna, helped the effort by making phone calls on Alfonso Morales-Macias' behalf.

"I've just been calling on the road," Hafter said. "I think it's really important. You're having kids being separated from their parents."

"We're going to be phone banking, calling as many people as we can," said history junior and club member Daniel Curiel on Wednesday afternoon. "I think it's important to get the community together and outreach."

Community members collectively sent over 1,500 faxes and made 600 phone calls on behalf of Alfonso Morales-Macias as of Wednesday afternoon, according to Rodis.

Volunteers welcomed the news of the deferred action.

"I was jumping up and down in the grocery store, I was so excited," Hafter

Vincent Picard, public affairs officer for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said most information concerning the deferred action is private. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released a statement saying the deferred action "will allow Morales-Macias to remain in the United States while he attempts to normalize his status."

The statement went on to say "A number of factors, including criminal history, immigration history and equities in the United States, are considered when evaluating a request for deferred action."

Hafter said the phone calls and faxes helped the case even though it was not stated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"They're deporting fathers of families left and right," Hafter said. "What made the difference in this case was really the community support."

Ana Morales-Macias said she is glad her father will continue living in the United States and now has a better chance of attending college.

"We were all happy and excited," Ana Morales-Macias said. "He was excited that he didn't have to go and could stay with us."

She also said she was thankful for the support of the community.

"There were a lot of people we didn't know who helped, from other states and other cities," Ana Morales-Macias said.

Volunteers are happy with the outcome but say a change in immigration policy is still necessary.