On May Day, children of immigrants stand up for their families at N.H. event

  • Karen Rejino pauses during a story about her mother being deported last month at the May Day Interfaith Prayer Vigil and Jericho Walk for Immigrant Justice at the Norris Cotton Federal Building in downtown Manchester on Tuesday, May 1, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Eva Castillo, director of the New Hampshire Alliance of Immigrants and Refugees, gives a kiss to Karen Rejino after Rejino told the story of her mother, Josefina, being deported to Mexico. Castillo said she has known Rejino her whole life and has known Josefina even longer. Rejino spoke at the Interfaith Prayer Vigil and Jericho Walk at the Norris Cotton Federal Building on Tuesday, May 1, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Roscel Arevalo (left) and Ayi D’Almeida recite a prayer during the May Day Interfaith Prayer Vigil in Manchester on Tuesday, May 1, 2018. D’Almeida spoke to the crowd. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Published: 5/1/2018 5:24:27 PM

Karen Rejino considers her family as American as anyone else’s in New Hampshire.

Rejino, 23, was born in Manchester and graduated from Memorial High School in 2013. She has lived in the state’s largest city her entire life and considers it home.

But that didn’t stop Rejino’s mother, Josefina, from being deported to Mexico last month.

“Every person that knows my mom knows that my mom is a hardworking woman and she’ll do anything for her kids,” Rejino said, speaking at a vigil for immigrant justice in Manchester on Tuesday. “It’s not that she came here for herself. She wanted to have a better future for us.”

Interfaith leaders from across New Hampshire led the vigil at the Norris Cotton Federal Building in downtown Manchester on May Day in solidarity with vigils around the world. A group of 100 people marched around the building and then listened to the stories about deported immigrants from across the state.

The Rev. Emily Burr, the Rev. Gayle Murphy and Eva Castillo, director NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, introduced the immigrants who told stories of deportation and the fear that has overcome the immigrant community.

“We need some relief for people who are here undocumented,” Castillo said. “We need a full revamping of our immigration law, because the way things are, the odds are always stacked against immigrants.”

Now, Rejino is working full time to support her three teenage brothers. Her youngest brother and her own 1-year-old baby had to go to Mexico with her mother, because she no longer has the resources to take care of them.

It will be 10 years until Rejino’s mother is eligible to apply to return to the United States. Even then, her deportation may count against her.

“I will do anything to have my mom and my family all together in one house. Right now she is in Mexico, but all my family, my dad and my brothers are still here in Manchester,” Rejino said. “It’s not okay that they didn’t give my mom a chance, but I’m going to do whatever I can to fight for my mom.”

Marches and other demonstrations for labor and immigrant rights took place from Florida to New York to California on International Workers’ Day and come amid similar actions worldwide. Many targeted President Donald Trump’s administration.

“The Trump administration has made very clear that they’ve declared war on the immigrant community on all levels,” said Javier Valdes, co-executive director of the advocacy group Make the Road New York.

Immigrant rights groups have joined in May Day activities for more than a decade, initially to push back against harsh legislative proposals and later to call for reform and legal status for immigrants in the country illegally who were brought to the U.S. as children or overstayed their visas.

(This story has been edited to reflect that Rev. Darrick Jackson was not at the vigil. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.)

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