Phoenix activist Angeles Maldonado helps children understand eviction

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” May I tell you something ? My father is in prison.

According to human rights expert and activist Dr. Angeles Maldonado, that’s what 8-year-old Akemi told her as she conducted interviews with children from various schools and pro-immigrant organizations in Phoenix. as part of a university project on the impact of immigration laws.

Akemi’s testimony had an impact on Maldonado, and after learning more about the little girl’s family situation, she realized that the girl’s father was not incarcerated, but was being held in a immigration detention center.

“When I found out about the situation, I felt the need to explain to the daughter that her father had done nothing wrong,” Maldonado, who works as an office administrator for the Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, told AFP. Phoenix. “(Children) learn that if you go to jail, it’s because you did something wrong. In this case, they (detained Akemi’s father) just because he had no papers and that confuses (the children) a lot.”

The first thing that came to mind was to look for books that would help these children understand immigration laws and understand the subject better, but it was very difficult for him to find them.

“There are many books on immigration, but it is difficult to find bibliographic documents on immigration aimed at children. Books that are digestible and easy to understand for them just don’t exist,” she said.

Based on her experience writing for certain media, Maldonado had the idea to create something that would contribute to this cause. She thought of writing a book that would give these children a message of encouragement and hope. It’s like “Where’s daddy?” was born.

Dr. Angeles Maldonado flips through the pages of the children’s book she wrote, titled ‘Where’s Daddy’ on Oct. 1, 2022, in Phoenix. The book is illustrated by Edward Dennis.
Megan Mendoza/The Republic

The 42-page book is eye-catching for children, with a full-color cover featuring an illustration of a girl walking hand-in-hand with her parents. It is also easy to read, with a format similar to that of a children’s story. The illustrations were created by local artist Edward Deniss.

In the book, a little girl—whose story is based on Akemi’s testimony—recounts how sad she felt because her father couldn’t be there on her birthday. She says sometimes he calls her on the phone, sometimes she visits him at a detention center in Eloy and talks about her experience participating in anti-immigration protests in Phoenix.

From Guanajuato, Mexico, to Phoenix, Arizona

Maldonado was born in Salvatierra, Guanajuato, Mexico, and brought to Phoenix by her parents when she was 8 years old.

Angeles Maldonado’s mother, Maria Maldonado, said that from an early age, her daughter showed leadership, from home to the community.

“She was the one who organized her sisters to do their homework, she was the one who organized the parties. She always distinguished herself by having the initiative and making her own decisions,” said Maria Maldonado.

She grew up near 20th Avenue and Indian School Road. She studied at Central High School while her father worked as a nightclub bartender and her mother cleaned houses.

“That’s why I’ve always identified a lot with the issue of immigration. My parents were always very hardworking…and did everything they could to give me an education and keep the family going,” Maldonado said.

Dr. Angeles Maldonado, author of
Dr. Angeles Maldonado, author of “Where’s Daddy?” poses for a portrait at her home on October 1, 2022 in Phoenix.
Megan Mendoza/The Republic

She received her bachelor’s degree in justice studies from Arizona State University, as well as a master’s degree in public administration and a doctorate in education.

“As a human being, she is a very noble person, and if anyone asks her for help, she is always ready to help,” her mother said.

Another of the qualities that María sees in her daughter is the dedication she has always put into her studies, standing out from her for her intelligence.

“She’s always been a very studious, very intelligent girl. During the two years she spent in Mexico, she got top marks, and in school here in Arizona, she got pure ‘A’s. I’m very proud of her,” said María Maldonado.

Maldonado is now the CEO of Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, a Phoenix-based firm that serves Spanish-speaking communities dealing with criminal and immigration matters.

She is also the founder and executive director of The Border Crit Institute, a nonprofit also based in Phoenix “whose mission is to highlight the voices and experiences of people of color living in borderlands (via l education and pedagogy in social justice, research on frontier regions and the publication of counter-narratives of resistance),” reads Maldonado’s website.

Dr. Angeles Maldonado flips through the pages of the children's book she wrote, illustrated by Edward Dennis and titled
Dr. Angeles Maldonado flips through the pages of the children’s book she wrote, illustrated by Edward Dennis, and titled ‘Where’s Daddy’ on Oct. 1, 2022, in Phoenix. The book is based on a true story and highlights the impact of immigration laws on young children.
Megan Mendoza/The Republic

The book “Where’s Daddy?” can be ordered from the Border Crit Institute website, or you can go directly to www.dondeestapapi.com where it is available as a Kindle download.

Maldonado said she was in talks with a publisher to be able to print it cheaply and make it easier to market.

Janet Rocha has known Maldonado since 2017 and said she is a person who cares about helping others.

“She’s passionate about organizing in the community,” said Rocha, who works with her at the law firm. “She always finds a way to say ‘yes’ to help the community, whether it’s at protests, events or community service.”

Rocha was present in some of the interviews Maldonado conducted with children as part of the work behind “Where’s Daddy?” The work Maldonado has done to make this book a reality resonates deeply with Rocha.

“My ex-husband and I had to go through deportation proceedings, we had a 3 month old baby girl, (my ex-husband) was deported and didn’t return to the US until she was 2 years,” Rocha shared. “(My daughter) does not remember this separation, but she read the book and is moved without knowing that she lived something similar. The book allowed her to ask questions and to understand the situation that she went through, and that’s something that happens to a lot of kids.”

Storytelling through art: Phoenix Woman Raises Awareness of Undocumented Immigrant Issues

More than a book, a resource

“What would you do if you were President of the United States? was another of the questions Maldonado asked these kids during the interviews.

While some replied that they would build a big chocolate fountain or build more amusement parks, Akemi replied that she would knock down the border with sticks, as if it were a piñata.

“These are very innocent responses, but in a way they reflect the frustration they feel due to the absence of their loved one, and with this book I seek to bring some relief to the bad situation. they’re going through,” Maldonado said.

According to a report by the American Immigration Council, a total of 4.4 million U.S. children under the age of 18 lived with at least one undocumented parent in 2018. Additionally, half a million U.S. citizen children had at least one parent deported between 2011 and 2013.

“Many affected children find themselves questioning their identity, sense of security, agency and belonging. This experience of crossing geographic and cultural boundaries is the impetus for writing this book,” said Maldonado. “To create a story that resonates with the lived reality of immigrant children and offer words of encouragement and hope.”

Dr. Angeles Maldonado flips through the pages of the children's book she wrote, titled
Dr. Angeles Maldonado flips through the pages of the children’s book she wrote, titled ‘Where’s Daddy’ on Oct. 1, 2022, in Phoenix. The book uses a mixture of Spanish and English.
Megan Mendoza/The Republic

Maldonado said many of the quotes attributed to the title character are actual quotes from young children living in Arizona.

While Arizona has a long history of anti-immigrant rhetoric, particularly when former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was in office and the controversial “show me your papers” law SB 1070 was put in place. implemented in 2010, Maldonado said the problems many immigrant and Latino families face continues to be a serious problem.

“When we were under the Trump administration, even under Joe Arpaio, everything was more public. But today the problem persists. Latino families continue to face discrimination in housing, at work and in many other areas,” Maldonado said. “We continue to see families that are separated. It’s a reality. We have to move forward to try to ease the situation or help the families who are going through this.”

His business and nonprofit aims to help the community by providing legal and educational resources. In order to meet the needs of the community, she has also collaborated with several local organizations such as Chicanos Por La Causa, The American Civil Liberties Union and La Union del Pueblo Entero.

Immigration Resources

Freedom For Immigrants, a non-profit organization that protects the rights of people detained in immigration centers, has helpful resources on its website for people facing deportation proceedings.

Since 2010, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has opened an ICE detainee locator on its website that allows people to locate people detained by the agency. They also have a family support line where interested people can call 209-757-3733. Website: https://locator.ice.gov/odls/

The Executive Office for Immigration Review has created a toll-free 1-800-898-7180 ​​immigration court phone number where individuals can receive information about their cases through an automated system 24 hours a day. 24 and 7/7.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review maintains a list of free legal service providers by state: https://www.justice.gov/eoir/list-pro-bono-legal-service-providers

If you choose not to use any of the resources listed above to find an immigration attorney, check out the USCIS website and learn how to avoid scams: https://www.uscis.gov/es/fraude-estafas-y-fallas-en-el-desempeno/evite-las-estafas-de-inmigracion

For more information, those interested can visit the Freedom for Immigrants website: https://www.freedomforimmigrants.org/

Contact Javier Arce, journalist and editor-in-chief of La Voz, at [email protected] or on Twitter @javierarce33.

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