By Sonia Osorio
MIAMI -- The U.S.-born children of an undocumented Nicaraguan woman began a hunger strike to prevent the deportation of their mother, who has been held in a South Florida immigration detention center since last month.
Cecia and Ronald Soza told Efe that they began their hunger strike on Monday at the headquarters of Fraternidad Americana, a pro-immigrant organization based in Miami.
"We're doing this to help my mother get out of the immigration center and we're asking President (Barack) Obama to take her out of there because she's not a criminal," 12-year-old Cecia says.
Her mother, Marisela Soza, 32, was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on Dec. 19 in Pompano Beach, north of Miami, as she was going home after taking Cecia to catch the school bus.
The undocumented immigrant appealed her case before an immigration judge, but ICE has set her deportation date for next Thursday, according to Fraternidad Americana.
Ronald Soza, 9, in a letter to Obama said that he and his sister are "devastated" by their mother's situation, adding that they need her to help care for them.
The boy said that in December upon returning to their house "instead of finding our mother waiting for us with open arms, we learned that we were orphans. It was as if she had died and we had been left along in this world."
"I hope that my family can enjoy happy times together again. Please, stop them (that is, ICE), help us so that Mama returns home with us," begged the boy in his message.
The Soza kids are having to get by without the care of their father, who is in hiding to avoid being nabbed by ICE.
"He doesn't want the same thing that happened to my mom to happen to him because we would be completely alone in the country," said Cecia.
Nora Sandigo, executive director of Fraternidad Americana, said that the children came to her organization's headquarters on Monday and announced that they would fast as a pressure tactic to prevent their mother's deportation.
The activist, who is also guardian ad-litem for the Soza kids and for 600 other children in a lawsuit against the federal government, called in doctors to give the pair medical exams.
"We're calling on the government to help the Sozas' mother, who is ready to be deported on Thursday. But something can still be done: President Obama has the authority to intervene and we're hoping that that occurs as quickly as possible," she told Efe.
In another letter that Sandigo sent to the U.S. government, she requests that Marisela Soza's deportation be postponed until a complete evaluation of her case can be performed.
The Soza children began their hunger strike three days after Fraternidad Americana asked the U.S. Supreme Court to issue an injunction suspending the deportations of undocumented parents until immigration reform is approved by Congress.
Filing the motion was attorney and Fraternidad Americana President Alfonso Oviedo-Reyes, who is representing the children pro bono. He says that the deportation of undocumented parents of the plaintiffs is a violation of the civil rights of the minors.
He said that before 1996, minors with parents in this situation had the right to go to court and have their immigration status resolved if they could fulfill three conditions.
The conditions were that they had to have lived in this country for more than seven years, be of good moral character and show that the children would suffer if their parents were deported. EFE