Blog Archive

Friday, April 29, 2011

Town hall gathering held in Oxnard to protest deportation

By Mark Storer
Ventura County Star
Friday, April 29, 2011

Denise Cabello spoke passionately in Spanish to the audience as she described her plight.

"Now, I can't stay here without documents," she said. "I'm afraid to pick up my children at school for fear of being arrested and deported."

Cabello was one of three people who spoke to more than 200 people gathered at Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Oxnard on Friday evening.

Many of those gathered wore green T-shirts that said "indocumentado" for "undocumented." They were there to rally against government deportations of undocumented workers and to hear U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat, discuss the issue.

In a town hall meeting sponsored by La Hermandad Mexicana Nacional as well as Central Coast Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (known as CAUSE) and United Farm Workers, among others, Gutierrez listened to Cabello's story as well as those of Anthony Garnett and Miguel Rodriguez.

"I came to the United States when I was 8 years old," Rodriguez said. "Now, both of my parents are ill and rely on me as their primary caregiver."

Rodriguez said he was arrested once for driving without a license.

"The police thought I was an American citizen because my English was so good. So they kept me in jail for three days. I was released before the INS found out," he said.

At the meeting, Mila Medina, a volunteer for La Hermandad, said: "I'm here showing my support. It's important for our community. This is about policies, yes, but it's also about the treatment of individuals. There's a lot of injustice out there and it's time for a change."

Garnett spoke to the gathering about his wife, an undocumented worker who nevertheless earned an associate of arts degree from Oxnard College.

"She's a legal assistant, but now can't go on to get her law degree. Because we don't have the DREAM Act, the world is missing a great lawyer because of documentation," he said. "We have too many broken homes and families for the government to make more."

Gutierrez was introduced by Hank Lacayo, a businessman and activist.

"It takes honor and bravery to give these testimonies," Gutierrez said in English and Spanish.

While those gathered chanted "Si se puede!" and gave Gutierrez a standing ovation, he told them he was committed to comprehensive immigration reform.

"When communities are terrorized by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raids and when people are detained without legal representation, when children come home to find their parents missing, the system has to change," Gutierrez said. "Those aren't my words. They are candidate Barack Obama's words. Thank you for your words, Mr. President, but it's time to replace them with actions."

U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., spoke to the audience in a pre-recorded message. She was unable to attend as she is still in Washington, D.C., with her family.

"I want you to know that I remain comprehensive immigration reform and I support the DREAM Act," Capps said to the cheers of the audience.

Beatrice Garcia, lead organizer with CAUSE, said: "Under President Obama, more deportations of undocumented workers have taken place than under any other president. We want to change legislation, yes, but we also want President Obama to use his executive power to provide relief to some of these people," she said.

Gutierrez said: "We're traveling to cities throughout the U.S. We came from Oakland today and we'll be in Los Angeles and San Jose tomorrow — and we won't stop until we get the reform that we truly need."