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February 28. 2013 9:11PM

Immigration reform rally Saturday in Nashua

NASHUA - Families who have been significantly affected by existing immigration laws will be traveling to New Hampshire this weekend to share their stories and promote immigration reform.

The Keeping Families Together bus tour will arrive in Nashua at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Louis de Gonzague Church, where the public is invited to learn more about their cause.

"We want to build up a sense of awareness about the concerns and issues of immigration impacting our own community," said Janeth Orozco, a Rivier University student and intern with the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. "Nashua has grown so big, and our office is telling us how we will have a few more refugees coming into town. The communities need to be acceptable and ready when they come."

About 25 people will be traveling on the bus tour, according to Orozco, who said they will be joining at least two immigrant families from Nashua planning to share their personal stories.

Rev. Marcos-Torres will bless the bus with a little prayer before participants enter the church to discuss the importance of keeping families together through immigration reform.

The national bus tour is traveling to 90 cities in 29 states to push for immigration reform.

This weekend, the bus will travel to New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, said Orozco.

"Keeping Families Together highlights the stories of immigrant families who struggle to cope with the heartbreaking effects of our country's broken immigration system," says the organization's website, which encourages people to share their struggles.

By building a community to advocate for immigration reform, it will empower those families torn apart by the existing immigration system, according to the website.

"Uniting with immigrant activists, advocates and champions, these families will demand a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country," says the site.

Keeping Families Together is a project of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, and is supported by the Center for Community Change.

Many people in the Greater Nashua area do not realize how many immigrant families reside in the city, said Orozco, encouraging them to attend the campaign rally to learn more and help make a difference in their own neighborhood. She is hoping for a good turnout, as several organizations have been contacted about the event, and fliers have been distributed throughout the city.

"Without immigration reform, the number of complaints we receive about discrimination due to national origin will only continue to mount," Rahsaan Hall, deputy director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, said in a release issued by the MIRA.

During the Feb. 5 launch of the New England Coalition for Keeping Families Together campaign, Hall said: "Too often we are approached by people who are stopped by police merely because they are 'driving while brown.' Even when people have legal immigration status, this kind of treatment breeds fear and resentment that harms relations between police and immigrants, and decreases security for everyone," says the release.

Saturday's bus event kicks off at 10 a.m. at the church, 48 W. Hollis St., Nashua.

khoughton@newstote.com


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