Arizona activists are trying to stop deportations case by case as the immigration reform debate continues that could give legal status to the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
"We've come to the point in Arizona where we can't wait any more for immigration reform - we've changed our position and now we're just trying to save every person who is arrested," Carlos Garcia, director of the Phoenix-based community organization Puente (Bridge), told Efe.
Many deportation cases in Arizona arise from Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's controversial workplace raids.
An example, Garcia said, is that of the Figueroas, who in 2009 were arrested by Maricopa deputies while they were working at a Phoenix-area carwash.
Their U.S.-born daughter, Katheryn Figueroa, then 9, found out about her parents' arrest when she was watching television and saw them handcuffed.
"Katheryn's story is an example of the pain and suffering many kids go through when their parents are arrested in our state," the activist said.
The girl, backed by organizations like Puente, has struggled to have her story heard - she even went to Washington to testify before a congressional committee.
Though her parents were released, they still face the threat of deportation, with their next hearing set for Wednesday.
Garcia said that in the last three months, Puente has "closed" 40 deportation cases and is currently working on another 65.
"The truth is we don't win them all. The truth is that sometimes there are deportations, but we have won most cases," he said.
Some Arizona activists take more extreme measures, such as Raul Alcaraz, representative of the South Tucson Workers Center, who twice in the past five months has tried to stop an arrest by laying down in front of a Border Patrol vehicle.
"Here in Tucson we're seeing a war against immigrants, so we can't talk about immigration reform, only about stopping deportations," Alcaraz said. EFE