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SEACOAST ONLINE: Stand Up for Immigration Reform

October 7th, 2009

To the Editor:

San Caralampio is a poor Mexican farming community along the Guatemalan border where hundreds of families have been torn apart — not by war, but by economic policies such as NAFTA, which have destroyed their families' ability to live off of their farms. Unable to find work in their small farming community in southern Mexico, Candido's three sons made the agonizing decision to leave their family and began the long and harrowing journey through the hostile desert to find work in the USA.

Two men in San Caralampio couldn't just stand by as desperate migrants, looking for a new life, passed through. Candido and Flavio helped them along the way, taking some into their homes, sharing food and shelter. In the Mexico of the early 1990s, Witness for Peace was accompanying Guatemalan refugees who had fled the horrors of their country's civil war. Families had been torn apart, and those who made it to Mexico were weary from their journey and heartbroken by their loss.

"When my first son left for the U.S., I couldn't even watch," relates the elderly Candido as his eyes well up with tears. "That's how deeply it hurt."

Flavio's voice shakes as he explains that in recent years as many as 500 young people from his small community have left. Six died, either on the way to the USA or while working here as migrant laborers.

Just as Witness for Peace accompanied refugees fleeing from war, we now stand with families torn apart by unjust trade policies. Our staff in Mexico and in the USA has worked with Flavio, Candido, and thousands of other farmers, workers, and community leaders across Mexico, as well as with immigrants in the USA, to stand up for truly comprehensive immigration reform — policies that not only recognize the rights of immigrants currently in the USA but also change our policies that break families apart in Mexico and across the hemisphere.

These are tough times, and the financial crisis is taking a toll on us all. But we at Witness for Peace cannot let up in our work to support families in San Caralampio and millions like them. Flavio and Candido have turned to us because they have nowhere else to go.

We need your support today! NAFTA has carved a path of destruction through farming communities across Mexico, driving millions of young adults to make the hardest decision of their lives: to leave their young children and elderly parents behind in order to put food on the table.

Unfortunately most of our neighbors in the USA still don't understand that the immigrants doing honest work across our country have come seeking not a fortune, but survival.

But with your support Witness for Peace can change these mistaken and often callous perceptions about our immigrant neighbors in the USA. This summer we released an exclusive video that does just that. The film shows you the real roots of migration in southern Mexico through the eyes of a group from North Carolina. I urge you to take a few minutes to watch it at www.witnessforpeace.org, or to contact me for a booking.

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