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Young Leaders Decry Record Deportations as President Obama Speaks at NCLR

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Minutes before the President took to the podium, NCLR president Janet Murguia reminded him of his “unfinished business,” pointing out that practically every person sitting in the audience has been affected by America’s broken immigration system. More than that, the Latino community has also been devastated by the record number of deportations, noting one particular member of the audience, Mercedes, is a DREAMer who is currently in deportation proceedings.

The Obama Administration’s horrific deportation record is no secret to us. When the President claimed that he didn’t have the authority to relieve the suffering of millions, the crowd chanted “Yes, you can! Yes, you can!” 

The chant was organized by Mercedes and young leaders from the United We Dream Network and Presente.org. In addition, the youth also participated in a creative and dignified protest. Throughout the speech, young leaders remained standing to ensure that President Obama saw the faces of those who have been devastated by his administration’s decisions.  Their protest set a new tone for the event.  The President’s remarks — which consisted largely of a recitatation of his many of his accomplishments, and wringing Republicans for denying him a “dancing partner” — rang empty to many in the audience, and to the many who were tuning in at home. 

All of us are well-aware that the President could relieve the suffering of countless families, but a conscious decision not to has been made by his Administration.

Mercedes’ deportation case tells the whole story.  From Gaby, at United We Dream:

Mercedes came to the United States from Mexico at the age of 11. She is now 18 years old. She was brought up with good family values; she goes to church, plays soccer, loves to play the guitar and violin, and enjoys spending time with family and friends. She has always been a successful student who enjoys school and works hard. Mercedes hopes to continue her education to give herself and her family a better future.

On May 15th, 2011, a Sunday after going to church in Nashville, a police officer pulled over Mercedes Gonzalez for driving less than 10 miles over the speed limit. The officer asked Mercedes about her immigration status, put her in handcuffs and took her to jail. Mercedes and her family were devastated, as she was graduating from high school the following Saturday. Mercedes spent approximately 3 days in jail, and was told by immigration officials that she would never go back to school, graduate from high school or see her family again. Thanks to the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and Jovenes Unidos por un Mejor Presente (JUMP), Mercedes was released but has been placed in deportation proceedings. 

You can sign her petition here: http://www.endourpain.com/mercedes

By the end of this month, President Obama will have deported one million undocumented immigrants, and Obama has made no promises to stop any number of deportations. From Felipe Matos, who was present at the Obama luncheon today:

It is inconceivable that he (Obama) keeps giving political speeches to win the Latino vote for 2012 while dividing the Latino community with his inhumane immigration policies. 

Watch as Janet Murguia emphasizes some of the legitimate frustration coming from within her community: