|Undocumented worker chained to barricade blocking ICE detention facility in downtown LA|
ANSWER participated in the coordinated actions that shut down the ICE office in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
Yesterday, immigrants and their supporters from East to West are sitting down in civil disobedience to shut down Immigration and Customs Enforcement operations.
In downtown Los Angeles, around 100 people kept the ICE detention center shut down for over three hours with a spirited picket that encircled a barricade with four undocumented activists chained to it. Five people were arrested in an act of civil disobedience.
|Picket and barricade blocking the ICE detention center in LA|
Nine immigrants and supporters in the Washington, D.C. area were arrested shutting down the ICE Washington Field Office. ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations at the Washington Field Office is responsible for processing the detention and deportation of immigrants within Virginia and Washington, D.C.
|Protesters chained together block ICE garage in Washington, D.C. area|
The protests are the latest in more than a dozen dramatic direct actions in the past two months organized by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and other organizations in cities across the country where participants have used their bodies to block deportations. They point toward the White House's self-imposed deportation quota of 400,000 removals per year and the criminalization programs that conscript local police into efforts to meet it, such as the Secure Communities program, as areas under the president's exclusive authority.
Ilse Escobar, who was arrested in Los Angeles while chained to the barricade, said "I am here today as someone who was forced, growing up undocumented, to pledge allegiance to a country that made it clear I was unwanted. And I am not alone today. We are here as a unit demanding that Obama sign a moratorium on all deportations. And we are also here to call out the corporations who are making money from our suffering."
Protester Rosa Lozano of D.C. said "The House might have closed for the year but ICE will be deporting families on Christmas unless we stop it. Blaming Republicans can't stop the suffering in immigrant communities. But the president can. With the stroke of a pen he could end his deportation quota and expand relief like he did for dreamers."
Blanca Hernandez, one of the protesters chaining herself to the ICE office that morning, said, "I have DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals], but people in my family and so many other people in my community are excluded. It’s only fair for everybody to have the same opportunity because we all came here searching for the same thing."
Yari Osorio, an ANSWER organizer and activist from New York City, traveled to D.C. to attend the protest. Osiorio was born in Cali, Colombia, and grew up undocumented. He explained, "I feel it is important for us to not sit on our hands waiting for congress to pass CIR while the president continues to needlessly tear families apart. Obama has the power to stop deportations and we can't stop fighting until he does so."
As Congress closes for 2013 without passing an immigration reform bill, the Obama administration continues deporting people at a rate of approximately 1,100 people per day. While Congress is on break, approximately 27,500 people will be deported.
The Obama administration’s hypocrisy in relying on tens of millions of immigrant votes, but deporting and separating families at record rates, shows the true nature of the Democratic Party. The president maintains that he has full legal authority to conduct war on Syria and drone strikes without congressional approval. But when it comes to providing relief from the terror of immigration detention and deportation, he claims that his hands are tied. This is a lie.
As the immigration debate winds on without result in Congress, more and more have expanded their search for relief from deportations to include the White House, who granted it to Dream-eligible youth last year and most recently expanded it to include military families. More than 500 organizations were joined this month by 30 Congresspeople in calling on the president to expand such relief from deportations to the fullest amount possible.
The president and the Department of Homeland Security have authority to decide whether or not to deport. With the stroke of a pen, President Obama could order a moratorium on deportations until a just reform package passes. The Democratic Party uses the power of the presidency when it is in the interest of Wall Street and the Pentagon, but refuses to grant immigrants relief from deportation.
Immigrant families around the country are fighting back. Families facing deportation have taken to the streets, stopping ICE in #Not1More deportation actions around the country.