Latino churches push for immigration reform
Rally to be held Saturday in Norcross
By ANDRIA SIMMONS
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Eric Tabora burst into tears as he remembered his wife being hauled away by federal immigration officials.
The 33-year-old independent contractor said his wife was arrested when they returned to their home in Powder Springs Wednesday morning after driving their 11- and 7-year-old sons, both U.S. citizens, to school.
Eric Tabora (left), 33, of Powder Springs discusses his wife’s impending deportation with Rev. Miguel Rivera.Recent headlines:
Now it could be months or years before the boys see their mother again. She is being deported to Honduras for overstaying her visa.
“If she leaves, what are we going to do?” Tabora said, hunching over as he cried.
Pastors in the Latino community say stories of families torn apart by deportation are all too familiar among members of their church congregations. The Rev. Miguel Rivera of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders estimates 38 percent of those church members are undocumented.
People pushing for federal immigration reform will rally Saturday at a Gwinnett County church, Tabernaculo de Atlanta. Rivera estimated up to 3,000 people will attend.
Advocates for the Latino community who promoted the event Wednesday at Central Pentecostal Ministry in Norcross say comprehensive immigration reform – always a political hot potato – has lately been dwarfed by the spiraling economy and wars abroad.
They look to U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and his 14-city “Family Unity Tour” as a chance to renew their calls for action. He will be at Tabernaculo de Atlanta at 6394 Buford Highway in Norcross at 1 p.m. Saturday.
A lack of federal immigration reform has led to a backlash against illegal immigrants on the local level, Rivera said.
Cobb, Hall and Whitfield counties already particpate in a federal program which allows local jailers to begin deportation proceedings for illegal immigrants.
Many in the Latino community oppose such programs. Others like D.A. King, founder of the Dustin Inman Society, praise those counties.
“We need to secure the border, enforce the law and watch illegal immigration numbers slowly go down instead of slowly go up,” King said.