In less than an hour, nine fasters and other community members plan to deliver a letter to Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor to demand an end to the collaboration between TPD and U.S. Border Patrol. The fasters will be at Tucson Police headquarters
Yesterday, I went down to Southside Presbyterian Church where the fasters having been living the past four days. Tomorrow is the final day of fasting. The group set out to fast for five days — not eating any food and only consuming water, coconut water and Gatorades. Many are Southside Labor Center workers, which is based out of the church. The point of the fast is to call attention to issues workers have immigration reform, increased militarization of the border, increased deportations — and of course, the separation of families that occurs with those deportations.
The issue that TPD often calls Border Patrol when undocumented immigrants are stopped is the biggest issue for the fasters I talked with, especially because its the one policy that possibly increases the likelihood of families being separated.
In a room at the church, a group of male faster sat on couches, some reading, but most talking and napping during day three, Miguel Gonzales points to two of his friends in the room — his work partners — whom he was apprehended with in April. Gonzales, who doesn't have family like his friends, ended up in detention for 47 days, while his other friends were released within days. However, one of their friends remains in detention and they worry about him because he's now lost in the system.
"We don't know where he is," Gonzales said. "This church helped me, helped us to get released."
Gonzales said it was important to him for people to know they are fasting because for better immigration reform, less militarization of the border, etc., "yes, all of that, but to know that we are not here to steal jobs. We are workers. We want to work. We are hard workers. ... We want a better life for our family and for our friends."
Brian, whose father Narcisso Valenzuela, peaked into the room to check on his father — a faster. The Dodge Middle School student said he knew why his father was there. "To get attention to help with immigration reform." While asking where everyone's from, Brian smiles and says his father is Yaqui. "We're the Yaqui's here," he said, a bright wide smile across his face.
Villaseñor and other public officials failed to attend a community forum in the Southside last night. Villaseñor oversees a police department rampant with civil rights violations. Local Tucson Police Department agents call border patrol when stopping mothers, fathers, youth, and DREAMers; they are separating families indiscriminately.
When: Friday July 19th
Where: 270 S. Stone Ave. (Tucson Police Headquarters)