Hundreds attend peaceful vigil in NH supporting immigrants facing deportation
MANCHESTER – A couple hundred people showed up in the rain Tuesday morning in front of the Norris Cotton Federal Building for a peaceful vigil to offer prayers for 70 immigrants living with illegal status in New Hampshire.
Some of those reporting to Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been living in the country for decades, according to Eva Castillo, the director for the New Hampshire Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees. These immigrants now face the threat of deportation. The whole immigration process, Castillo said, is draconian, non-functional and almost impossible for most people to adjust their status.
Castillo said she knows from experience how hard it is for immigrants living with illegal status to change their status. She came here 41 years ago on a student visa and married an American 32 years ago, but was still sent back to Venezuela because her marriage was not seen as legitimate by immigration officials. Castillo finally returned to the U.S. after several years and now helps other immigrants obtain legal status in the States.
Castillo stresses, they are not talking about those coming to the country and committing crimes; they are supporting immigrants who are productive members of society.
"Their only fault is being here without papers," Castillo said. "They have no criminal records and being here undocumented was not a crime prior to this administration."
Castillo said past laws have been changed, and its time the U.S. updates its immigration laws.
"Once upon a time, women could not vote. We changed that. Once upon a time there was no marriage equality, we changed that," Castillo said. "Laws become obsolete. They are dynamic. They are meant to be changed when they no longer work."