Phoenix UUs know pain, fear of deportation

During the Saturday afternoon plenary the General Assembly heard from Isabel Chairez, a Phoenix resident who spent three months in a Maricopa County jail last year while pregnant. She said she witnessed oral abuse, was only fed twice a day, and did not receive adequate prenatal care. She was released a month before giving birth thanks to efforts by her community and her lawyer.

She said members of her community have taken training so they can defend their rights if they are racially profiled and arrested. “We are no longer afraid to take on those powers that want us to suffer.”

Geraldine and Tiffany Mendez (©Nancy Pierce)

Geraldine Mendez (left) and her sister-in-law Tiffany Mendez, members of the UU Congregation of Phoenix, told the 2012 General Assembly about Geraldine’s mother’s deportation and about Tiffany’s husband’s difficult path to legal documentation. (©Nancy Pierce)

Tiffany and Geraldine Mendez also spoke. Geraldine’s mother, who had come into the U.S. without authorization twenty years ago, was arrested and deported by ICE agents in 2009. “It has left a never-ending hurt in our hearts,” she said. Tiffany, married to Geraldine’s brother Daniel, said she lives in fear that Daniel will be deported also. In order to have any chance of being declared a legal resident, Daniel would have to return to Mexico for a hearing and there would be no guarantee he could return.

She said, “How is this situation not the same as splitting up our family? Please let your friends, your neighbors, your communities know that the system is broken; families are still being split apart even when they try to go through the paperwork process. Let them know that we need everyone’s help to keep families together.”

Tiffany, Geraldine, and Daniel are members of the UU Congregation of Phoenix.

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