Immigration activists march in Phoenix

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- Immigration activists marched in downtown Phoenix Wednesday.  They are calling for the stop of deportations, especially when it comes at the cost of tearing families apart.

The group was lead by 16-year-old Jennifer Hernandez who is desperate to have her family reunited.

“I remember border patrol stopping us and I remember my mom crying,” said Jennifer Hernandez.  “One day your mom is there and the next day she isn’t.”

Jennifer's mom, Bertha Avila, is undocumented and has been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, since November 17. According to ICE officials, Avila has been deported twice before.

“I never believed it would happen to my mother or my family and now that it did I don't want anyone else to go through it,” said Hernandez.

Jennifer along with her father and four younger siblings marched along with other immigration activists demanding all deportations be stopped and families be reunited.

“Please let my mom go,” cried 11-year-old Oscar Hernandez.

Representative John Kavanagh says every country in the world has immigration laws and abandoning ours would result in madness.

“If you come here illegally you are the one subjecting yourself and family to a life time of shadow living and the possibility of being broken up,” said Kavanagh. “To suggest that among those who come here illegally we carve out a niche for those that have children here that they then get to stay that's rewarding illegal behavior.”

But it is precisely what this group of activists aims to achieve.

ICE officials tell 3TV that they have prosecutorial discretion and typically don’t detain individuals who are the primary caretaker of children unless they are subject to mandatory detention because of their criminal record or immigration history. 

Bertha Avila has been removed from the United States twice before.

ICE released this statement:

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion. We recognize that our nation’s broken immigration system requires serious solutions and we fully support common sense immigration reform.  While we continue to work with Congress to enact reform, ICE remains committed to sensible, effective immigration enforcement which prioritizes the removal of convicted criminal aliens, threats to national security, recent border crossers, illegal re-entrants and immigration fugitives.”