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Immigration-reform group holds Fourth-of-July march

Frank Munoz 4 is part Fourth July immigration-reform march organized by  Chicago-based FamiliLatinUnidthrough Southwest Side. | Stefano Esposito~Sun-Times

Frank Munoz, 4, is part of the Fourth of July immigration-reform march, organized by Chicago-based Familia Latina Unida, through the Southwest Side. | Stefano Esposito~Sun-Times

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Updated: August 6, 2013 6:28AM

For much of their march along a weedy, desolate stretch of South Ashland on Thursday, only the pigeons took note of the clatter rising up from a small band of drum-banging, cymbal-crashing immigration-rights protesters.

No matter, said Miriam Perez, one of the organizers of the Fourth of July rally.

“Even if we’re like five or 10 people, we’re like an army,” said a defiant Perez, 25, a member of the Chicago-based Familia Latina Unida.

The group — numbering about 50 — marched 10 blocks south along Ashland to 41st, where the group says immigration officials raided the Swap-O-Rama last week, unjustly arresting patrons at a flea market popular among Latinos.

A spokeswoman with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement later in the day said the 13 arrests Saturday were part of a joint Homeland Security and Cook County Sheriff’s Office investigation targeting vendors selling pirated CDs. The operation was connected to the customs side of the federal agency, not immigration, spokeswoman Gail Montenegro said in an email.

The marchers, including several children of illegal immigrants, blasted President Obama for what they see as a failure to keep his promises to Latinos seeking speedy immigration reform and an end to deportations.

“We’re starting to feel like battered wives, where the husband keeps telling us that he’s going to get better and going to change and he promises us the world,” said pastor and immigrant rights activist Emma Lozano. “But then he comes back and he just beats us down again.”

Lozano it was time for Latinos to declare their “independence” from both major political parties because “both parties are playing politics with our families.”

“We come here today on the Fourth of July — Latino families — to declare our independence to both political parties,” said Lozano, saying that both Republicans and Democrats have failed a Latino community seeking an overhaul of the country’s immigration system.

Last month, the U.S. Senate passed a historic immigration reform bill, but it now faces an uncertain future in the House.

Bladimir Caballero, 13, came with his family. Bladimir says he and his mother are facing deportation because she brought him here illegally from Honduras when he was just a baby.

All the teen knows of his homeland is what others have told him: “It’s like a beautiful place — lots of rivers and beaches,” he said.

Besides, Bladimir has big plans for his future in America.

“I want to go to Harvard,” he said. “If I don’t make it as a lawyer, I want to be a soccer player.”

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