Protesters rally in front of ICE against workplace arrests

Protesters rally in front of ICE against workplace arrests

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PHOENIX -

Lawmakers in Washington have moved one step closer to putting forward a plan to overhaul the nation's immigration system.

Tuesday, an agreement was reached between agricultural workers and growers. That clears the way for the so-called Gang of 8 to reveal their legislation later this week.

Meanwhile, back here in Arizona, protesters are working to make sure a path to citizenship is included in any immigration reform.

They gathered in front of ICE headquarters in downtown Phoenix -- parents, workers and students -- more than 26 families separated from their loved ones during what they describe as discriminatory raids by Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

"The message here today at ICE is about the deportation. Both of these women are suffering as their children are in the process of deportation. Both of these young women in their early 20's were caught working and are now in the process of deportation and maybe never seeing their family again," says Carlos Garcia.

Carlos Garcia, an organizer with Puente, says the group is fighting for the freedom of the two young women -- but also the tens of thousands of other undocumented people. Including members of Santa Cecelia, a band that performed at the rally.

"We've had to live through the fear of coming back to Arizona because well, in my case I'm undocumented as well, so we have been fearful of coming over here because we always hear about the laws that are being passed [like] SB 1070."

Puente is calling on Country Attorney Bill Montgomery to drop exaggerated charges against workers and will ask ICE to use its discretion to grant deferred action to those affected by Arpaio's raids.

"History shows that everybody in this country is an immigrant, we all come from somewhere else and they want to forget that fact very quickly."

Wednesday, tens of thousands of community, labor and immigrant rights supporters and immigrant families will converge on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol, urging congress to pass common sense immigration reform in 2013.

A group will be gathering at 4 p.m. at the state capitol Wednesday evening for a vigil, then they'll head to the airport later that night to take a red-eye to D.C.

Statement from County Attorney Bill Montgomery

While the individuals involved in the protest are exercising their First Amendment rights and focusing on their loved ones, identity theft is a real crime with real victims and that is the focus of this Office. Going from having the worst rate of identity theft in the nation in 2008 to the 8th worst in 2012 due mainly to the decrease in the number of incidents of employment-related fraud is evidence of successfully prosecuting these cases. While I will remain faithful to my oath of Office to uphold the U.S. constitution and the constitution and laws of Arizona, I will also advocate for fair and sensible federal immigration reform that secures our borders and protects our economy. I encourage all who share similar concerns about our failed immigration system to join me in this effort.

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