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Diaz friends rally at Capitol to change immigration laws

Family greeted by lawmakers pushing helpful resolution
by: Jonathan House, After meeting with the Beaverton family, Sen. Ryan Deckert gave Jennifer, her friend Sylvia Gomez and father Luis Diaz Sr., a tour of the Capitol Building, above right, before joining them outside to talk with supporters rallying for immigration reform.

Diaz family supporters took their case for immigration reform to Salem last week and returned with a sense of hope.

Luis Diaz Sr. and his 12-year-old daughter Jennifer met Friday afternoon with state Sens. Avel Gordly and Ryan Deckert and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici to discuss possible legislation that could reunite families like theirs, torn apart by broken immigration laws.

Members of the Jenny Diaz Reunite My Family Foundation stood in the rain on the front steps of the Capitol as Luis and Jennifer visited Gordly's office.

Luis presented the North Portland senator with a thick stack of petitions seeking immigration reform and thanked Gordly for her willingness to lead the charge for change.

'I appreciate this moment that you are giving us,' Luis said.

Gordly is sponsoring Senate Joint Memorial 4 that urges Congress to make family reunification a priority in federal immigration reform. She also is the author of Joint Resolution 12 that calls for state agencies and local governments to encourage policies that give legal status to noncitizen parents of children who are U.S. citizens.

Both measures could help the Diaz family.

The senator, who has newspaper clippings of the Beaverton family on her office wall, offered words of encouragement to both Luis and Jennifer.

'Know that in the broader community, there is a great deal of support and encouragement and prayer for your family,' Gordly said. 'We use our voice and our office to stand up for justice for all people.

'As a state, we need to think broadly about the immigrant community of Oregon. Families come here to work hard, settle and build their lives. Our community is growing and changing every day, and it's our challenge to look at how we can be more compassionate and become our higher selves.'

Gordly encouraged the Diazes and their supporters to continue to share their story and add their voices to the immigration reform movement.

In return, Gordly, Deckert and Bonamici said they would do what they could to help.

Luis and Jennifer Diaz were overwhelmed by the welcome they received in Salem.

'I couldn't believe how much they knew about our case,' Luis Diaz said. 'It made me feel good to know that Sen. Avel Gordly has been working to help.

'I can't tell you how thankful I am for all the support my family has received.'

Following the rally in Salem, Luis called his wife Irma and two oldest children Luis Jr. and Monica, who were forced to return in October to Guatemala.

'Irma was very happy and very excited about what I told her about the rally,' Luis Diaz said. 'Before Friday, she was beginning to lose hope.

'It's been very hard for them over there. They just want to come home.'