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Chicago Tribune: Family Unity Tour Spotlights Evangelicals, Kids Affected by Deportation

by Jacquelyn Mahendra on 03/06/2009 at 7:44pm

tribune graphic In “Immigration reform movement looks to evangelicals, children left behind by deported parents,” the Chicago Tribune describes Congressman Luis Gutierrez’s (D-IL) new “Family Unity Tour,” which launched last weekend and has already reached thousands across the country. One of the main reasons for the listening and learning tour is to bring family and faith to the forefront of an immigration debate that has long been dominated by divisive rhetoric.

The Tribune reports:

Borrowing a page from the civil rights movement of the 1960s, Latinos have taken their cause to churches, drawing upon the growing population of evangelical Latinos who are strong advocates of family values. While Hispanics overwhelmingly remain Roman Catholics, nearly one in six in the U.S. identify as evangelicals, the second largest religious group in the Latino community, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

From a tour stop at a church in Norcross, Georgia, participants in the events share their personal stories before thousands of witnesses:

15-year-old Marlon Parras stood on a stage in front of 3,000 people and talked about the hardships he and his 13-year-old sister, Emiely, have faced since their parents were deported to Guatemala. He wept as he spoke softly of their parents’ decision to leave the children, both American citizens, with relatives and church members so they could continue their education in suburban Atlanta.

“This is not a family,” Parras told the crowd that rose to its feet during his emotional testimony. “This is not fair.”

The sharing of powerful stories like these will surely re-energize and re-awaken the call for the new Administration to get started on the kind of real immigration reform promised during the campaign. The Tribune piece continues:

“When you have a 15-year-old American citizen speak very emotionally and eloquently about his pain, most Americans will say, ‘We didn’t know the system was that broken,’ ” said Gutierrez, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ Immigration Task Force, which is promoting the movement.

Indeed, showing just how broken the system has become will be a major goal of the Family Unity Tour, as it stops in churches from Texas to Pennsylvania.  In the words of Congressman Gutierrez:

“As a nation —as citizens— we cannot wait any longer for fair and just immigration reform. Across America, parents and children, husbands and wives are being torn apart by a system that values quotas over family values and which undermines our economic security in a time of crisis. It is for this reason that U.S. citizens in each of these cities are joining this campaign and standing up for real, lasting change.”

Want to be a part of the Tour?

View the full schedule, get updates on Twitter, and view photos on Flickr.

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