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Immigrant Families Ask Miami-Dade Mayor For Protection

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Amanda Rabines
/
WLRN
Members of the group "We belong together" sang for the mayor an gave him holiday cards.

South Florida families who have been directly affected by immigration laws are using the holidays to convey a message of unity.

More than a dozen of the sons and daughters of undocumented parents gathered in Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s office on Wednesday afternoon to sing Christmas carols and ask him take measures to protect their families for the next coming years.

The kids substituted the original lyrics of the classic carol “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and added the words “please protect our families from immigration next year,” with the musical company of a mariachi band in the background.

In response, the mayor said he is for what he calls “comprehensive” immigration reform

“I think we need to secure the borders, but also I think that there should be a humane way to resolve this matter without having to resort to dividing families in the United States,” Gimenez said.

According to the census, more than half of Miami-Dade County’s population is foreign born, and as a result immigration tends to be a major issue --especially after this year’s elections, when President elect Donald Trump made frequent comments about Mexican immigrants and referenced bordered walls.

Earlier this month, Gimenez’s office released a statement saying he supports the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, commonly referred to as DACA. President Obama expanded the original program, but a federal court order ruled that expansion exceeded the president's authority.

Elena Marquez is a 17-year-old who spoke directly to the mayor. She said she was born in the United States but her parents, who migrated here in the 90’s, are still undocumented.

Her father was deported four years ago, after being pulled over for driving with an expired license, and now lives in Guatemala.

“Without my father, it’s tough. Like half of a puzzle still missing. And, I don’t want nobody else to happen to them, the same experience that I had,” Marquez said.

While holding the festively colored holiday cards made for him by the families, Gimenez said he was grateful for the time he has with his own family this holidays season.

“I’m going to start reading them [the cards] today, but I have to go home and do some work, because I will be with my family, thankfully,” Gimenez said.

Lis-Marie Alvarado, works for the National Domestic Workers Alliance and their campaign for immigration reform called “We Belong Together.”

She said advocates for undocumented citizens are working harder than ever to put pressure on local legislators to recognize their rights.

“We’re engaging kids, we’re engaging youth, we’re engaging workers, families, everybody who is going to be directly impacted, and those who are not as well, to come in solidarity with us, because it’s going to be a tough time, so we have to get tougher,” Alvarado said.

Editor's note: This story has been updated regarding the mayor's support of DACA.