Bus Tour Profiles
We rode. We rallied. And we won't stop until reform is passed!
In March 2013, the Keeping Washington Families Together bus tour tour crossed the state and held boisterous rallies with over 500 people showing their support in Vancouver, Seattle, Wenatchee, Yakima, Tri-Cities, and Walla Walla. Bus riders shared stories of dealing with the broken immigration system with local immigrant families who are suffering, too, as well as staff from the offices of Members of Congress.
Our tour was part of the nearly 3-week, 19-state, 90-city national Keeping Families Together bus tour which ended on Wednesday, March 13, in Washington D.C., with a hearing and meetings with Congress. All participants are calling on Congress to introduce a bill by March 21 that truly aims to fix our broken immigration system and provides a clear path to citizenship.
Meet some of the courageous and powerful bus riders from the Washington bus tour!
Rudy fled Mexico because of the backlash he was facing for his activities on behalf of workers in the labor movement. Blacklisted by many company owners, Rudy could not find a job and decided to bring his family to the U.S. to provide them with a better life. He worked two jobs to bring his wife and children to the U.S. from Mexico. Rudy and his family, including his daughter Xochitl, now live in Seattle where he has been fighting for immigration reform for years to keep his family together without the constant fear of being separated.
Xochitl arrived in the Pacific Northwest from Mexico with her family when she was three years old. She grew up with her parents warning her and her brothers about the consequences if anyone else knew about their legal situation. Xochitl says, “I always felt like a normal American, except with a secret.” She graduated from South Seattle Community College and found a great job. Not too long after she was promoted, she lost her job because of her legal status and returned to her previous grocery-store job.
“I grew up here. I have always been a good student and striven to achieve my dreams, but a little paper is keeping me from doing what I would love to do.”
She is now married and has a beautiful three-year-old son. Now 23, she continues to work at the grocery store and her husband works two jobs to help provide for their family. Only immigration reform with a path to citizenship will provide Xochitl and her family, including her father Rudy, the opportunity to stay together and live their dreams without fear.
25 years ago, Miriam fled her native country, Honduras, in fear of the consequences of her work as a labor organizer. Undocumented, she was too afraid to apply for citizenship. She then discovered the Washington New Americans (WNA) program and attended a Citizenship Day clinic where volunteer lawyers helped her fill out her citizenship application and apply to have the application fee waived. For weeks Miriam practiced English and civics and on Valentine’s Day of 2012, she passed both exams and took her oath as a U.S. citizen.
She then wanted to help her husband become a citizen, but he suddenly passed away. Miriam believes that she “can give people the push they need to become citizens, so they can help their families in time.” She volunteers for OneAmerica’s citizenship program, answering their citizenship hotline in Spanish to help people just like her who have dreams to become citizens. Miriam fights for immigration reform in hopes of keeping families together without living in fear.
The broken immigration system has made me wonder what has happened to the land of justice. This system has not only led me to question the direction of our nation, but also it has created a hole in families. Family separation has left my loved ones and I alone, abandoned, and vulnerable. That’s how my cousin felt when she was informed that her father was being deported. Without the opportunity to say their goodbyes, both my uncle and my cousin felt like they have been violently ripped apart from one another.
Riding on this bus is my way to show the nation that we need to fix the way our government runs the immigration system. To be the voice of the immigrant families and explain to the nation how breaking up families and leaving kids without a parent is one way our immigration system is broken. Knowing that there are many families, students, and children out there that are fearful of one day being picked up by ICE is what pushed me to go on this bus and be their voice.
The government should help reunite families that have been ripped apart. They must create a system that doesn’t deport good students or mothers or fathers. The government should strive to keep families united.
My name is Karina Miranda and I'm from Wapato, Washington. I have been a DREAMer ever since I was brought to the United States by my parents when I was 9 months old. I never knew that not being a citizen was going to affect me, because it didn't concern me when I was young. However, when I started high school, I realized the difference. My friends were able to get jobs in stores and restaurants, but I couldn’t. Junior year came and everyone began looking into colleges and financial aid. I was getting older and I knew I could get deported at any moment so I didn’t try as hard as I should have. I had always wanted to be a nurse, so I started Yakima Valley Technical Skills Center (YV-Tech) for a nursing assistant program, but to apply I needed a social security number for the exam. Thanks to deferred action, I can now work legally and be a nursing assistant. I know I can still accomplish my dreams, but there must be changes in immigration reform.
Anna is a member of SEIU775 Healthcare NW. She is a Russian immigrant who practiced medicine in Russia. Anna is currently working on the field program to educate people about the importance of immigration reform. She wants to be on this bus tour because she believes that fixing the immigration system is crucial to ensure that immigrant students who are studying in American universities remain in the United States once they finish their education.
Sylvia Fatima Taimi-Aho
Sylvia Aho is a member of SEIU775 Healthcare NW. Sylvia migrated from Tonga, South Pacific Islands. She is currently working on a field program to educate people about the importance of immigration reform. She wants to be on the bus tour to educate people about the benefits of comprehensive immigration reform. She is ready to urge everyone, including our politicians, to create a clear pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
My name is Enrique Gonzalez and I was born in Seattle. Both of my parents are immigrants from Mexico and both sides of my family have had to face tremendous obstacles in coming to this country. Their experiences led them to El Centro de la Raza where I attended school as a child, participated in the youth programs, and eventually returned to work as an adult in various capacities over the last 8 years. Immigrant rights are very important not only to my family, but also to all of us at El Centro de la Raza and the communities we serve. So on behalf of my family and El Centro de la Raza, I am riding with others on this journey for justice so that the efforts of those before me will continue to bring about a better tomorrow for our children. We will continue to work with all who fight for justice...no matter where they come from.
Celestino Garcia Alamo
I have been in the United States since the age of nine. Over 35 years ago, a companion and I experienced a terrible situation in search for work. We went to a ranch where a man let his dogs loose under the pretext that we would give them a disease. I did not speak English and did not understand why the other man was fighting and wanted us to leave. Someone told us that the rancher said we were animals and told us to go back to our country. The police arrived, arrested us and took us to jail for more than 20 days. We suffered discrimination with violence. I’m on the bus tour to fight for justice and comprehensive immigration reform.
I came to America on a tourist visa and got married after 22 years. I work with children of immigrant families to help them acquire an ID, passport, license, and certificate. I am involved in and support immigration reform to help these families be united, work freely, and achieve the American dream.
The broken immigration system has affected me because my family and close friends of my family have mixed statuses. Some are documented and some are not. I decided to ride on the bus because I wanted to meet new people and talk to others about how the broken immigration system has affected our lives. People that aren't on the bus should realize how great a movement this is. The American people and government officials can help by supporting immigration reform in their community and also by following OneAmerica.
Separation by deportation has not affected my family and me as much as others. However, we all live in some fear wondering if we will get to see our loved ones at the next family gathering. I chose to ride on the bus because I want to help the families who live in fear by providing the proper knowledge they need to survive this broken system we live in. People should care because we are all human and we need knowledge, love and compassion to understand each other. Most importantly, to let families who are living in the dark and fear know they are not alone. The American people and government officials can help us by hearing our stories and our struggles and vote in our favor.
The immigration system has affected me because I have seen many of my friends be separated from their parents. I decided to ride the bus because I want to be able to contribute to the campaign for Keeping Families Together and go to represent my loved ones who have been through the situation we are fighting against. People not involved in this bus tour should care about this cause because this injustice of separating families is happening in our country. The people and government officials can help spread the word of what is happening in order to increase the magnitude of the campaign for Keeping Families Together.
Coming from undocumented parents was tough. I witnessed them struggle because they didn’t have that nine digit number, which forced us to live in a very low-income community that was surrounded by violence. Family separation has not affected me personally, but I have witnessed many friends go through the process and it’s upsetting to see their parents have to leave their kids with a relative or be forced to take their children with them back to their homeland. The immigration system is unjust and I want to make it right. We have overcome many obstacles to be where we are now and I’m not going to stop insisting for change until it becomes real.
We’re all humans and deserve an equal opportunity. We need as much support as possible to make sure we do the right thing. We need the American people and government officials to help support and emphasize the importance of this movement and spread the word.
Ibrahim Diallo is in the process of applying for asylum to a path of citizenship and to reunite with his family in Mali. Still residing in their native homeland, Ibrahim’s three daughters and wife are facing backlash from conflicts back home. Female genital mutilation is common in Mali. Although his two older daughters have escaped this process, Ibrahim is afraid for his youngest daughter and wants to bring all of them to the United States to ensure their safety. However, he has had a lot of difficulty in applying for asylum because the application process has been delayed several times. Nonetheless, he is patiently waiting for his interview. At the moment, Ibrahim cannot work and is being supported by family members nearby. More than anything, Ibrahim wants to bring his family to the United States to escape the hardships in Mali.
Fredy Zarate is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who was driven across the border at the age of nine. He has no hint of a Spanish accent from his native home so everyone assumes he was born in America and does not bother to ask. He says in a television interview at a news conference around President Obama's announcement of the Deferred Action policy, “My life is here, how can you uproot someone?” Fredy is now a sophomore at Seattle Central Community College in hopes of being an accountant one day.
- What We Do
- Contact Us
- Work & Volunteer
- National Affiliations
- About the Web Site
- How Do I?
- Immigration Reform
- Immigrant Integration
- State and Local Policy
- Education Policy
- English Innovations
- Racial Profiling
- Research & Reports
- Administrative Relief
- Environmental Justice
- Take Action
- For Media
- Annual Celebration