New York’s La Morada restaurant is often bustling. It’s a gem in the South Bronx that serves yummy Mexican dishes at reasonable prices with thoughtful service. For the past several years, it’s been home base for the Saavedra family, which owns and runs the restaurant. One member of the family, 23-year-old Marco, is among the Dream 9 who crossed the Nogales, Ariz., border this week in an unprecedented action. And as Saavedra and the eight others await their fate in a privately run immigrant detention facility in Arizona, the Bronx restaurant has become an activist hub—not only for supporters, but also for the Saavedras.
Natalia and Antonio Saavedra were busy Wednesday taking phone and table orders, cooking food, washing dishes, and ringing up tabs. But in between the daily commotion, they flipped channels on a large television looking for news—any news—about Marco. Their son was finally able to call from the Eloy Detention Center that morning and check in, telling his parents that he was in good health. Aside from running a restaurant and trying to keep tabs on their son, they also greet people who come by to talk about what’s happened and what they can do to help.
Violeta Gomez, 28, is a longtime family friend. She heard about the action before it happened, from Marco’s sister, Yajaira, who is now working from Sacramento to help secure the release of all nine crossers in detention. Gomez says she once considered herself a dedicated activist, but had to stop when her mother became sick with ovarian cancer nearly two years ago. Gomez is busy: While she’s attained Obama’s Deferred Action Childhood status she’s not eligible for financial aid. That means she works up to 40 hours a week to pay for her education and help her mother out with medical and living costs. Despite her workload Gomez travelled nearly two hours by subway from Brooklyn’s Coney Island to visit the Saavedras in the Bronx on Wednesday and help them make signs for a rally later that day in Manhattan. “Marco has inspired me to be more active,” said Gomez. “I really think we’re going to get some changes [in immigration policy], but only if we put enough pressure on it,” she explained.
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