March against deportation scheduled for Saturday

04/03/2014 8:39 PM

04/03/2014 11:53 PM

The Merced Organizing Project will join hundreds of other organizations nationwide in the “Two Million Too Many: National Day of Action Against Deportation” movement by hosting an informational picket and march on Saturday.

According to organizers, the movement is the community’s response to the record-high deportation rates. It is estimated that in the next few months, more than 2 million undocumented immigrants across the country will have been deported under the Obama administration.

MOP organizers and supporters will meet at 11:30 a.m. along M and 21st streets for the informational picket. At 1 p.m. the group will march to Sound Life Church, 928 W. Main Street, where the film “Documented” will be screened. The documentary chronicles the life of Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, who identifies as an “undocumented Filipino-American.”

Vargas, who was brought to the United States at the age of 12, has not been able to visit his family in the Philippines in about 20 years. That is a conflict that many people in Merced County can identify with, according to MOP community organizer, Crissy Gallardo.

Gallardo said deportations have taken a toll on local communities and families. She estimates approximately 9,000 families in Merced are living in the shadows.

“Some of our own are living in fear,” Gallardo said. “We want to create consciousness around the community that these people being deported are our neighbors, our friends and our loved ones.”

The “Two Million Too Many” movement adds to the string of marches and rallies held in past years to protest deportations. Gloria Sandoval, president of the California Central Valley Journey for Justice, has been following immigration issues since the early ’80s, and believes that a comprehensive immigration reform is long overdue.

“Every day that goes by there’s separation of families, and that’s morally wrong,” Sandoval said. “Congress is not making any decisions and we feel that President Obama should use his executive powers to stop dividing our families.”

An open discussion after the film will aim to localize the issue. According to Gallardo, organizers hope to discuss the impact that living in fear has on the health of undocumented individuals and their children.

“Locally, we know of cases where children can’t concentrate in school or become ill because they are constantly worrying about the possibility of their parents being deported,” Gallardo said. “And parents, too – they live scared, fearing that a single traffic violation can result in deportation.”

According to Sandoval, informational events such as the National Day of Action are important to shine light on an issue that affects a large number of people in the community. She hopes the National Day of Action will help speed action in Congress.

“I feel like Republicans and Democrats are throwing the issue back and forth like a football,” Sandoval said. “But these are people’s lives they’re playing with, and that’s not fair.”

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