WASHINGTON — Maria Guadalupe Crespo recalls the hardship she endured while illegally crossing into the United States from Mexico 12 years ago.
Her group of about 20 people spent days evading Border Patrol agents in the southern Arizona desert. Hungry and dehydrated, by the time they reached their safe house the food that was waiting for them had spoiled and their one jug of water was nearly empty.
As Congress prepares to resume debate on a possible overhaul of immigration laws, Crespo was among seven undocumented immigrants who chained themselves to the gates outside the White House on Wednesday to protest deportations of people here illegally who had hoped to be legalized by now. One was her son.
"There is so much suffering in our communities. I don't want anyone else to experience what I've been through," said Crespo, 53, who lives in Atlanta and cleans houses.
Yet the 53-year-old grandmother, who settled in Atlanta where she's worked as a house cleaner, exposed herself to a deportation — and the prospect of another journey through the desert — when she joined six other undocumented immigrants Wednesday who chained themselves to the gates outside the White House.
With Congress discussing a bill for months to overhaul the nation's immigration laws, Crespo and the others took part in the act of civil disobedience to call on the Obama administration to take matters into his own hands and stop deporting the nation's undocumented immigrants.
"I wouldn't wish my (crossing) experience on anybody, but that's why we're doing this," said Crespo, whose son was deported to Mexico seven years ago. "There is so much suffering in our communities. I don't want anyone else to experience what I've been through."
Crespo and the others chained themselves to the fence Wednesday morning on the north side of the White House — a popular area where tourists flock to snap pictures and security is high. But their decision to focus their pressure on the Obama administration instead of House Republicans who control the fate of a proposed overhaul to the nation's immigration law has stirred a debate over how Washington should move ahead.
Marshall Fitz, director of immigration policy for the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington, said immigration advocates would be better served by keeping the pressure on House Republicans.
The Senate passed a sweeping immigration bill in July that would spend $46 billion to secure the border, revamp the nation's legal immigration system and allow the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants to apply for citizenship. Republicans in the House have advanced smaller bills that tackle border security and revamp the legal immigration system, but have not even filed a bill that addresses the fate of undocumented immigrants.
Read more: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/09/18/immigrants-protest-deportations-white-house/2827721/
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