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Demonstrators urge Arizona elected officials to lead on immigration reform

(KTAR Photo/Ali Vetnar)

PHOENIX – Members of a local grassroots organization stood outside late Sen. John McCain’s Phoenix office last week urging Arizona’s congressional delegation and Gov. Doug Ducey to lead a national push to fix what they call a “failed U.S. policy toward asylum seekers.”

The demonstrators from Uncage & Reunite Families Coalition held signs with slogans such as “Reform” and “Protect our Children” on the corner of 22nd Street and Camelback Road on Friday morning.

“We are absolutely devastated by the crisis that is happening right now to our children and families who are seeking asylum,” said Esther Lumm, a spokeswoman for the group.

Lumm went on to talk about Jakelin Maquin, the 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who died recently while in custody of U.S. Border Patrol.

“This crisis has come about because of the zero-tolerance policy and lately because of the new policies put in place where applying for asylum has been slowed down by the federal authorities,” Lumm added.

The coalition sent a letter to Arizona’s current and incoming Congress members, including Senate appointee Martha McSally, as well as Ducey.

The group is requesting that Arizona’s elected officials support a Congressional investigation into deaths like Maquin’s and serious injuries suffered by migrants in Border Patrol custody.

Petra Falcon leads Promise Arizona, an immigrant activist grassroots organization that works closely with the Uncage & Reunite Families Coalition.

“Campaign season is over. People will be taking their positions in January,” Falcons said.

“So this is the time where we really need to knock on those doors and talk to them before they get so busy in the day-to-day life of being an elected official.”

“We need them to stop campaigning and start leading.”

Uncage & Reunite Families Coalition is asking Arizona officials to follow in the footsteps of McCain and pursue the kind of practical immigration reform he supported.

McSally was appointed by Ducey to fill McCain’s seat until a 2020 special election. She will take over for Sen. Jon Kyl, who is stepping down next week. In September, Ducey appointed Kyl to succeed McCain after McCain’s death.

“We want to make sure that John McCain’s legacy is continued in this state and that his designate follows in that way as well,” Falcon said.

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