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Mixed Reaction To Immigration Blueprint From Rights Activists

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Mixed Reaction To Immigration Blueprint From Rights Activists

Mixed Reaction To Immigration Blueprint From Rights Activists

Photo by Jude Joffe-Block

Advocates gathered at the Arizona state capitol to call for a path to citizenship, and family unity to be included in comprehensive immigration reform.

PHOENIX -- A blueprint for immigration reform released by a bipartisan group of Senators on Monday sparked a reaction from the immigrant rights community in Arizona.

Local advocates applauded the plan for including a pathway to citizenship for immigrants in the country now without papers, which they said was a priority.

At the same time, they voiced concerns that such a path would be contingent on additional border security measures.

"We don't need more money being spent on border security, we have got enough out there, we don't need all this technology to hunt down people like animals," said Petra Falcon of the grassroots group, Promise Arizona.

Falcon says policies that allow families to stay together should be the focus of a final immigration bill, and her group will continue to advocate for that.

The press conference kicked off in front of the state capitol late Monday morning by introducing a Phoenix family that stands to be separated because of current immigration policy.

Jose Garcia, 11, the oldest of three U.S. citizen siblings, told reporters through tears that his father, Edi Garcia, was picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents last week. Advocates said the elder Garcia is scheduled to be deported on Tuesday.

Erika Andiola of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition said she wished the blueprint had emphasized updating the visa system so immigrant family members can come to the U.S. legally, without waiting years and years.

Photo by Jude Joffe-Block

Jose Garcia, 11, has a father who is facing deportation to Guatemala.

Instead, she said "It was all mostly, lets take care of enforcement first, and then we will figure out what to do with the people who are here undocumented."

Andiola, whose mother was taken into ICE custody and then released earlier this month, said her group is working to highlight stories about families separated through deportation.

She said they will take these family stories "to the senators, to our congressional delegation, so they can see that should be the priority, not necessarily enforcement."

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect that advocates say Edi Garcia's deportation is scheduled for Tuesday.

Jude Joffe-Block was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2010 to 2017.