viernes, agosto 18, 2006
Attendees say migrants abused, exploited in U.S.
Not long ago, 400 pounds of sheets fell on Evangelina Guzman at the laundry she worked at in Phoenix.
Her bosses told her to get back to work and she had to because she is here illegally and finding work isn't easy, she said.
"They have to treat us with respect," she said last night at a forum hosted by two immigrant-rights groups. "We don't cross the border to lose our dignity."
Guzman was one of 20 speakers explaining the problems faced by illegal immigrants in the U.S. to nine panelists, whose sole role was to listen.
About 130 people showed up at the Armory Park Senior Center to listen to the comments, given mostly in Spanish.
The panel included U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., Board of Supervisors Chairman Richard Elías and Derechos Humanos Director Isabel Garcia.
The forum was meant to counter congressional hearings across the country on problems associated with illegal immigration.
Immigrants' rights activist Violeta Dominguez told the panel America shouldn't complain about illegal immigrants if the country eats the food they pick and lives in houses they build.
"We have to leave hypocrisy aside," Dominguez said. "We need these workers. It is not about charity."
Exploitation was a common theme, as was alleged harassment by the U.S. Border Patrol.
Gloria Mitchel, from Los Angeles, said her nephew was killed in Border Patrol custody and said dogs have more rights than illegal immigrants because dogs must be treated humanely.
"You give assistance to an immigrant, you will go to jail," Mitchel said. Her report of her nephew's shooting could not be immediately confirmed.
Aurelio Alipa Valencia, a U.S. citizen and a Pascua Yaqui Indian, returned from a trip to Mexico last weekend, he told the panel. A Border Patrol agent said his passport wasn't good and he needed a visa, he said.
Valencia's nephew Mario Gamboa Leyva held up his uncle's passport and asked: "How is it possible that this is not good enough identification?" It was not clear last night how he managed to get in the country.
The forum didn't necessarily break new ground but was a hearing for people to be heard who were not invited to testify in front of congressional members, Grijalva said.
"It's good to get it out in the open," Grijalva said, calling the Republican-sponsored hearings held around the Southwest a "political road show."
State Republican Party spokesman Garrick Taylor said Grijalva's forum was no different.
"Raúl Grijalva should spend less time worrying about grabbing headlines and instead start rethinking his own open border policies," Taylor said.