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Immigrant group calls for moratorium on deportations

Father Jose Landaverde answers press during press conference President's Day message from Illinois families removal deportatiproceedings President's Day Guadalupe Anglican

Father Jose Landaverde, answers to the press during the press conference and President's Day message from Illinois families in removal and deportation proceedings on President's Day, at the Guadalupe Anglican Catholic Church, Chicago, IL , on Monday, February 18, 2013. | Ting Shen~Sun-Times Media

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For the immigrants gathered in a Pilsen church Monday, the goal was to speak for themselves rather than to be spoken about.

Some have family members who are currently in immigration detention and face the threat of deportation. Others have family who have already been deported, joining the more than 400,000 people who were ordered to leave the country last year.

The brothers, mothers and uncles of illegal immigrants facing deportation called for a moratorium on the deportations while debate continues on immigration reform.

“The people who are speaking today are people who might not fit into the legislation that President Obama and Congress are drafting,” said Ireri Unzueta Carrasco, organizer with the Immigrant Youth Justice League. “And so we think it’s really important for people to tell their stories, particularly if they are someone who’s going to be left out of the debate.”

Immigration reform proposals have run the gamut from guest worker programs that would allow undocumented immigrants to remain with families in the United States to proposals that make a pathway to full citizenship.

The families who joined together Monday are seeking reform for all 11 million undocumented people currently living in the United States, including groups they’re not sure Congress or the president will include in reform bills, Unzueta Carrasco said, including those criminal histories or minor encounters with law enforcement.

Unzueta Carrasco said it’s still important to talk during the reform process because deportations haven’t been halted.

“While this piece of legislation is being drafted, people’s families are still being torn apart,” she said.

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