At vigil for deported family members, immigration reform is in the air

As they hung paper hearts on a chain-link fence, children and adults listened to stories told in Spanish by people whose relatives had been deported.


Immigration advocates are mobilizing to make sure those kinds of stories, the painful tales about the devastating effects of sundering families, is part of the national debate on immigration.

The vigil was held in front of the mural “Aqui y Alla,” a transnational project with artists from Chihuahua, Mexico, and Philadelphia collaborating to raise awareness about immigration.

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“My family was [torn] apart. This is something big for every family and every member of the family,” said Maria Serna, whose husband was deported seven years ago.

“Every day you’re going to remember,” said Serna, who was part of the gathering Tuesday night in South Philadelphia. “When something like that happens to your family, it’s big.”

The immigrant advocacy group Juntos — meaning “together” — organized the event with a local Catholic church. They hope to mobilize the community to push for comprehensive immigration reform.

In Serna’s case, it’s too late for her husband. She still supports reforms but said she’s not optimistic that any new policy will create a clear path for illegal immigrants to earn citizenship.

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