With thousands of children coming to the U.S. from Central America, local activists are calling on the government to welcome refugee children instead of deporting them back to their home countries.Raices in Tampa is organizing a rally Thursday.
Marisol Marquez is an activist and co-founder of the group.
“We are a community and we started not even a year ago, here in Tampa. It’s a group that’s made up mostly of workers in the city of Tampa. It was four of us, were just friends, and we decided that because our background was in doing activism, we wanted to start up a group that was actually doing immigration since we didn’t see that anything was happening in Tampa.”
Why is the protection of refugee children such an important issue?
“It’s so important because it seems to be on people’s minds, right now. This isn’t anything new however; the immigration of children has been something that’s happened for a very long time. It’s extremely important because it reflects the policies that the U.S. has unfortunately passed and imposed on different countries, particularly those in Central America, like Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador. You know, us seeing these huge waves of children is because the future of these countries is in such large turmoil, AND they’re sending their children to a better future, even though they know that things can be pretty bad in the U.S. as we’re seeing with them being in detention centers.”
What are you hoping will be accomplished from the rally that Raices in Tampa is holding Thursday?
“Well we’re urging President Obama and Congress and even any local politicians in the state of Florida to actually issue support for the refugee children, and for them to not be building detention centers, to further hold them. We want them to actually protect these refugee children and not to deport them. We’re urging President Obama, who unfortunately asked $3.7 billion recently to build new detention centers, and we don’t agree with that at all. Instead of trying to further hold them in detention, he should be trying to solve the problem, and actually protect these children.”
Besides attending this rally Thursday, what else can be done to get involved with the refugee children?
“Well we are hoping that people kind of take this up in the state of Florida because in Florida a lot of the Central American immigrants they actually do come to Florida. Its one of the highest percentages of immigrants from Central America other than places like California. So we hope that the state of Florida can respond adequately. We just heard that in Pasco County they’re actually going to start housing a lot of these refugee children and people are taking up action to send over donations to Pasco County where they’ll be held and that’s a very positive thing. I think instead of deporting these children back to a country that is their country, but they could potentially be murdered or initiated in very violent gains, we should do everything we can to make to protect them and make it welcoming for them. We’re hoping that people all over the state take this up and that we see local politicians, Congress, and even president Obama protecting these children.”
Where can people go to find out more information about the refugee children action?
“Well we have a Facebook group, its called Raices en Tampa, and you can just look us up, you can even just type in your Facebook search refugee Tampa and the group will come up and the particular event.
“This isn’t the only type of action that Raices en Tampa does, we’ve actually been campaigning for driver’s licenses’ for the undocumented, but because this action was very pressing, and we want Obama to act, we decided to take this up. There’s another action that’s happening as well, this Tuesday we’re having a call-in day for over 146 workers in Naples Florida which is way down south in Collier County, they were raided at their work place and all of it was on an excuse of identity fraud. But again, undocumented immigrants can’t get any kind of Medicaid or health insurance so they’re just being detained and they’re potentially doing to be deported and we want to tell Collier County to not do that. You can find out more information on our page.”
The rally will be Thursday starting at 7:00 p.m. outside of the Immigration Office at 1624 East 7th Ave in Tampa.