More than 100 women on Friday are participating in a Walk for Migrant Dignity from the U.S. Supreme Court to the White House, commemorating the one-year anniversary of the #100Women100Miles Pilgrimage when predominantly migrant and refugee women walked from an immigrant detention center in Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C.
“One year ago, we set out on a 100-mile walk and lifted our voices, inspired by Pope Francis’s message that all migrants and refugees should be welcomed and respected,” Andrea Cristina Mercado, co-chair of We Belong Together, the organization behind the event, said in a statement. “His message of compassion is more important than ever, as we walk from the Supreme Court to the White House, away from hatred, political divisions and inaction towards a vision of justice. To us human dignity knows no borders.”
Adriana Cazorla, who knows about family separation all too well, is one of the action’s organizers and participants. A leader with We Belong Together, a campaign to mobilize women for immigration reform, Cazorla is a domestic worker from Washington and a domestic abuse survivor who almost lost her children when she was detained after her abusive spouse called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when she fled home with her children.
Cazorla told Rewire she became involved with Friday’s action because after she got out of “the hell of detention,” she wanted to help raise the voices of women like her, and she wants to continue learning from other organizations so she can help other domestic workers advocate for their rights.
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“We want President Obama, in the little time he has left, to hear us. We want to let him know of the contributions of immigrants. They treat us like criminals, but we are not criminals,” she said. “I’m also here to learn about our rights as domestic workers so that we can receive a better salary and learn how to ask for more benefits for our work. Whatever we learn here, we can share it with our communities so they are empowered to learn more about their rights. We want people to believe and to know that we are fighting for them and we’re not going to stop fighting.”
Friday’s action was scheduled to begin with a press conference by immigrant women leaders from around the country who have been impacted by family separation, deportations, and detention. The procession will end with a candlelight vigil honoring those affected by family separation.
The goal of the event is to call on elected leaders to “stop the separation of families and the suffering of immigrant communities,” according to a press release.
Three quarters of all immigrants to the United States are women and children, and immigration policies adversely impact migrant women. Cazorla said that immigrant women experience a lot of pain and suffering, and that is why she is so invested in asking Obama to put a stop to deportations before he leaves office.
“I want them [the United States] to see our worth and to see that we are valuable to this country. I want the hatred to stop just because we are from different countries or because of the color of our skin or because we speak different languages,” Cazorla said. “I want people to realize we work really hard and that we are human beings who deserve rights and respect. We want to stop the separation of our families. That’s all we want.”