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Immigrants rally for justice

Published Feb 25, 2010 9:21 PM

Teodoro Aguiluz, Central American Resource Center executive director, drew loud applause when he told the crowd of almost 800 immigrants and their supporters: “We’ve had enough. We are not criminals. We are not terrorists. We are workers who are here because we have to support our families. Enough with the indignity! Enough with the disrespect! We demand to be treated as the proud and dignified human beings that we are!”

Aguiluz was one of dozens and dozens of representatives of community organizations and activists attending the Texas Convention for Immigration Integration sponsored by RITA — the Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance.

More than 700 people showed up from Dallas, Fort Worth, the Rio Grande Valley, Houston, El Paso and Austin, where the convention took place at the Travis County Expo Center on Feb. 20. Houston sent 180 people and Dallas/Fort Worth brought four buses.

Aguiluz introduced a young boy to the convention and told the crowd: “We need comprehensive immigration reform now so that our families will no longer be separated by ICE. This little boy’s father was just deported to Mexico a few days ago. He is the face of why we are fighting. He needs his daddy here with him now.”

The determination for legal recognition was so strong among the crowd that it permeated the air. The will to organize, protest, lobby, hold press conferences and picket lines and travel and raise funds for the necessary campaigns to gain comprehensive immigration reform was palpable.

Two women attired in their colorful native dress, representing one of the activist Guatemalan organizations in Houston, took the microphone to speak about their organizing. One carried a bilingual sign written in Spanish and her Indigenous language saying they were speaking for those not heard.

Eliseo Medina, vice president of the Service Employees International Union, called on the crowd to go to Washington, D.C., for a March 21 action on immigration.