Three weeks into their historic "No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice," Phoenix resident Leticia Ramirez carries a message for other undocumented mothers across the United States.
"I am mother and I am undocumented and I am not afraid," Ramirez, a mother of three young children, told me in a phone interview today, as the 30-plus modern-day freedom riders entered Georgia, on the heels of the 11th Circuit Court's strike down of that state's Arizona copycat immigration.
"I have heard so many stories from other mothers," Ramirez said, an 18-year resident of Arizona, who was brought to the United States from Mexico as a child. "They are inspired by our journey, and tell me that they have been inspired to come out of the shadows, and this encourages me to keep going."
At a "No Papers, No Fear" rally in Alabama earlier this week, undocumented mother Trini Garcia told Ramirez and other participants about her travails against last year's lethal combination of the devastating tornado and punitive immigration laws. A 15-year resident in Alabama, Garcia noted:
"I cannot stay quiet when I see that our rights are being stepped on. Those in the legislature need to know that they are not dealing with numbers, but with people and families. Our own community needs to organize, and learn about their rights, and learn to lose fear. That is why I'm telling my story today."
As in Georgia's mixed decision, the infamous "show me your papers" 2B clause in Arizona's SB 1070,upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, is now back in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this week over challenges of violations of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection clause and the Fourth Amendment's search and seizure clause.
A preliminary injunction remains in effects on the 2B clause, which stipulates that law enforcement must make a "reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or arrested if there's reasonable suspicion that person is in the country illegally."
"From raids in the workplace, to daily traffic stops over minor issues," Ramirez said, the 2B "papers please" clause allows for discriminatory violations against Latinos targeted by the SB 1070 immigration law. "Because of the color of your skin, your neighborhood, every step of your life, with 2B in effect we never know what will happen."
Over half of the estimated 10 million undocumented adults in the U.S. have children, according to a Pew Hispanic Center analysis. A recent study by the Applied Research Center, "Shattered Families," found that "at least 5,100 children are currently living in foster care who are prevented from uniting with their detained or deported parents."
A number of civil rights groups, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the National Immigration Law Center and the ACLU, have brought the new legal challenge back to Judge Susan Bolton, who issued the initial injunction against SB 1070 two years ago.
Ramirez said the UndocuBus, organized by Arizona human rights group Puente and other civil rights advocates, has received an outpouring of support from communities across the Southwest and South.
"We're educating people, and letting them know that people are fighting these laws in every state," Ramirez said. "That we are not afraid to come out of the shadows."
Headed for the Democratic Party convention in Charlotte, Ramirez added that their message, ultimately, was also aimed at President Obama and his Democratic Party.
"We want President Obama to keep his promise for immigration reform," she said. "It's time to keep that promise for all families."
This post was originally published on the Huffington Post blog.