Stephanie Carroll Carson
DENVER – Tania Valenzuela is a community activist in Denver, helping other immigrants and minorities fight for their rights in the workforce and in their neighborhoods.
Now, she finds herself fighting for her mother, Imelda Gonzalez, who is facing deportation after living in the United States as a licensed hair stylist for the last 14 years.
“I need her close to continue doing my work in the community and she has put me through college,” Valenzuela says. “She has been my support system. You know, I can’t imagine not having her.”
Gonzalez applied through a third party to obtain an updated work visa. Immigration officials are investigating that person, while Gonzalez and others face possible deportation.
On Thursday, Gonzalez’s hearing was postponed until December to allow her to prepare her case.
Celia Reyes-Martinez with Mi Familia Vota Education Fund says Gonzalez’s case is one example of why lawmakers in Washington need to pass solid immigration reform.
Current reform proposals exclude any immigrants already in the process of deportation. Reyes-Martinez thinks that should change.
“There are a lot of families who have already been torn apart,” she says. “There are a lot of people who are in limbo right now and they don’t know if they’re going to be able to stay.”
Gabriela Flores with the American Friends Service Committee says the current immigration system forces people who want or need to come to this country to make tough choices.
“Our immigration policy is completely broken and for many people there are no means for them to come through legal ways,” she says. “In this country, historically, we have had a history of excluding certain populations.”
Both houses of Congress are now working on bills that would provide an eventual path to citizenship for most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.