Demonstrators to Arizona Senators McCain, Flake: Fix Immigration, Health Care

Demonstrators to Arizona Senators McCain, Flake: Fix Immigration, Health CareEXPAND
Ray Stern

Mayela Diaz can do little more than ask for help from Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, and mercy from President Donald Trump.

Trump's immigration plan calls for the potential arrest and deportation of any undocumented immigrant suspected of a crime.

That could mean people like Diaz, who's been in the country without authorization for 22 years and has two grown children who are U.S. citizens.

On Wednesday, Diaz and 20 other demonstrators stood on the sidewalk near Flake's office at 2200 East Camelback Road in Phoenix, hoping to get the senator's attention.

Organized by Promise Arizona, the activists and immigrants rallied along busy Camelback Road after the start of rush hour at 3 p.m., decorating the site with yellow balloons and a table with prayer candles.

"We came to talk to Senator Flake, to ask to help us and to continue to support immigrants," Diaz said in Spanish.

Promise Arizona staff member David Ayala-Zamora translated for New Times. "We want to hear his voice as other people are talking about immigration and terrifying immigrants. We want to hear his voice."

Her message for Trump: "If he's happy to have his family all together, why doesn't he give the same opportunity to other families?"

Maria Guerrero, a house cleaner from Phoenix and undocumented immigrant, said she's hopeful that people like herself won't be deported. She's been in the country 20 years and has two U.S.-born children, one in high school, the other in college.

"The only thing we are doing is working hard to keep our families together," she said, also in Spanish. "I have paid taxes. I'm not a criminal."

Petra Falcon, Promise Arizona's executive director, said the demonstration was also timed with the National Day of Congressional Action called by the We Are America campaign.

"We are not going to accept a hate agenda coming out of this administration," she said. "Flake ...  he needs to come and help us fight."

Flake was among the majority of Arizona Congressional delegates who skipped having any kind of town hall or meeting with constituents during Congress' February 18-25 recess, despite the recent ruckus in Washington, D.C.

So was Senator John McCain, whose office is across the street from Flake's, at 2201 East Camelback Road.

There, a group of about a dozen Affordable Care Act supporters gathered at the same time with signs, drawing honks from passing motorists.

"Even though Senator McCain is not here, we want his staff to know his constituents are disappointed," said Erin Connelly of Organizing for Action, which put out a call on its website for people to rally on Wednesday.

Connelly clarified that she wasn't protesting McCain, but rather "the fact that leadership [in Congress] is trying to repeal the health care."

Michael Boylan, holding a sign that said, "Don't Kill Us, Support the ACA," said he believed the ACA, also known as Obamacare, should be expanded so more people are covered.

"People don't always realize how many people would be impacted if they dismantle it," said Boylan, an executive in a local behavioral-health firm.

In other states, town halls by members of Congress on recess stirred up raucous crowds.


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