Irma Mondragon has lived in Palm Beach County since she was 8 years old.
Her mother had her brought here from Mexico, and she’s lived here ever since. She attended school in the county, met her husband at a local skating rink and is raising five young children in their Loxahatchee home.
But she’s still trying to become a U.S. citizen.
“I did not ask to be here. But this is the only country I know,” Mondragon, 28, said Saturday. “If I have to leave, it takes away everything from me and my kids.”
Mondragon was one of about 200 people who gathered at the El Bodegon Supermarket at Lake Worth Road and Military Trail on Saturday afternoon for a “grand concert for immigration reform.”
The event — which featured a mariachi singer, a comedian, free hot dogs and bands to keep the crowd entertained — was part of a series of events being held around South Florida in the past week to bring awareness about the need to reform immigration policies to provide a “real path to citizenship,” said Isabel Vinent, deputy director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition and one of the event’s organizers.
“Every day that passes and no legislation is approved, 1,100 to 1,400 are deported,” Vinent said. “It’s an outrcy against human rights the U.S. can’t sustain anymore.”
A bipartisan group in the U.S. Senate — dubbed the gang of eight — has been working on a bill to overhaul immigration legislation and provide a way for some of the millions of immigrants in the country illegally to gain citizenship.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is part of that gang of eight and is tasked with selling the bill to conservatives. He will appear on major talk shows today to tout the immigration bill, which may be introduced this week.
Vinent said she and others are pushing Rubio to move quickly in getting a bill presented and to ensure that the bill focuses on keeping families together and stopping deportations.
She pointed proudly to a sign that a volunteer at the event was holding: “Rubio, say ‘Yes’ to real immigration reform.”
Among the attendees at Saturday’s event was 18-year-old Victor Herrera-Ramirez of Greenacres. He and his family moved to Greenacres from Mexico when he was a 1-year-old.
He said the immigration reform movement is important because he wants to see all people be able to get an education, help their communities and take jobs “without being afraid of deportation or having to live in the shadows.”
He said he was impressed with Saturday’s turnout.
“It shows the community is getting involved,” he said, “and that people agree this is something that needs to be addressed immediately.”