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Today, a delegation of youth from Florida, North Carolina, California and Texas converged on Capitol Hill to deliver to Congress the holiday wishes of children across America: for the House to take up and pass immigration legislation that will keep their families together.
The press conference this morning included a skit featuring “Grinch Boehner” tearing families apart. Youth read heart-breaking letters that recounted stories of treacherous border crossing, separation from mothers and fathers, and living with the daily fear of losing family members to deportation.
“Congress please get your act together,” said Charlie Hoz, an 11 year old U.S. Citizen whose father was deported last year. “I want immigration reform, please. You can do it. Do your job. Obama you have the power to stop deporting people. Congress you are breaking families apart everyday until you pass reform. You have a chance to help families. So please do it now.”
Afterward, participants filed out chanting “they stalled, they lied, but 6,000 kids won’t be denied!” on their way to deliver 6,000 letters (labeled “Children’s Wish for the Holidays – Denied”) to House GOP leaders.
They ran into an obstacle at Speaker John Boehner’s office, which has for many days now been locked to immigration reform advocates. Capitol Police also showed up, raising questions as to why their involvement was necessary considering that the youth were just trying to deliver holiday wishes.
The action was the culmination of We Belong Together’s “Wish for the Holidays” campaign, in which thousands of young people wrote letters to Congress that conveyed their hopes and fears for a better life through immigration reform. According to a report released by First Focus for the Children of Immigrants, there are 5.5 million children who live in mixed status families with at least one undocumented parent. The majority of these children are U.S. citizens and more than 152,000 of them had a parent deported in 2012 alone. The Applied Research Center found that at least 5,100 children of deported parents are now living in foster homes.
View photos from the letter delivery today, below: