At May Day protest, activists fight for immigration reform

Guevara was busted via E-Verify at a job he was working on back in 2010, and initially went through a legal nightmare, where Hillsborough County sheriff deputies thought he was a different man. Ultimately he's had attorneys staving off deportation orders, but his last attorney said his luck has run out, and as it stands, he will be deported on May 7, despite meetings with Congressman Dennis Ross and Senator Marco Rubio's Tampa District office.

"I don't dare take my kids to Mexico with the violence there," Guevara said in closing. "I'm concerned for their safety ... but I'm concerned for them if they're left alone."

Although talk about immigration has been one of the dominant Washington stories in 2013, as the New York Times reported on Wednesday, there's no guarantee that a comprehensive bill will get through both houses of Congress this year. Anyone who says it will hasn't been paying attention, where background checks to purchase guns was supported by nearly 90 percent of the public, yet failed in the more liberal U.S. Senate.

"We are human, and we deserve to have our rights," said Estefania Galvis with Tampa Dream Defenders, the group sponsoring the May Day protest. She said her group is "not okay" with what they've seen so far from the Senate immigration plan put together by the so-called Gang of 8 Senators, led by Florida's Marco Rubio.

Juan Rodriguez with the Florida Immigrant Coalition, said his group is ambivalent about the Senate legislation.

"A lot of things very concerning to our communities still threatening the safety of our families," he warned, yet added that he likes other announced provisions, such as allowing undocumented parents of U.S. citizens the chance to come to come back to America, and of course the ultimate pathway to citizenship that will ultimately define the legislation if it passes.

Paula Everett with the ACLU of Florida said it's crucial that immigration reform gives fair access to education, respects freedom of speech and freedom of expression, and offers reform that "really respects everyone's right to love," alluding to LGBT couples in what could be the most contentious piece of the legislation.

That's because a number of Republican Senators — including Rubio — said that will kill the bill. Specifically, the reference is to an amendment expected to be introduced during the markup of the bill next week by
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) that will allow gay Americans to sponsor their foreign-born partners for green cards, just as heterosexual couples can.

On this May Day, activist Dustin Ponder — who was representing labor — referred to the day as the International Workers Day, and said the rights of workers parallels the fight for rights for immigrants.

  • Jesus Guevara (on left) is scheduled to be deported on May 7

There is a lot of talk about immigration reform right now, and it will only get more intense as the 844-page Senate bill enters debate next week, as well as similar legislation scheduled to be introduced and debated in the House of Representatives.

But the reality is that undocumented immigrants are being deported each and every day in the U.S., and in Ybor City Wednesday evening, one such man — Lakeland resident Jesus Guevara — described his situation. He said unless something miraculous happens within the next few days, he will be separated from his wife and four children and be deported within the next week.

"I don't want to be separated from my children," Guevara said in Spanish, with his speech translated into English by another activist at the event, held in the rain under a roof in Ybor City's Centennial Park. "I'm the head of the household, I provide for them, they depend on me for their livelihood, I don't know what will happen to my family if I get taken away."

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