BREAKING: On the eve of the Presidentâ€™s State of the Union address, protesters blocked the streets around the national headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security for 2 hours until they were escorted by police. The protest was held to call attention to the suffering of immigrant families across the country. The arrests, which included representatives of major immigrant organizations and faith leaders, underscored the growing disenchantment with the administrationâ€™s inaction on immigration reform.
Protesters called for the immediate action on passage of comprehensive immigration reform and the suspension of deportations of immigrants with US citizen family members. The protest highlights the growing frustration among immigrants and activists regarding the administration’s failure to deliver on basic commitments made during the 2008 presidential race.
“Last year on January 21st, we stood in front of DHS with faith leaders and 800 allies to urge a moratorium on the raids and press for immigration reform. We stand here again with our partners a year later to again make the case that in the absence of federal action to fix the broken immigration system, this nation will continue to see the devastation of thousands of families and neighborhoods,” stated EunSook Lee, executive director of NAKASEC.
Before the end of last year, Congressman Luis Gutierrez filled a bill on immigration reform. However, some Latino legislators believe the issue will be on the back burner for a while. Earlier this month, Rep. Henry Cuellar told reporters during the opening of the new Anzalduas International Bridge in Mission, TX that comprehensive immigration reform would likely occur in 2011.
This has not stopped immigrant advocacy groups from sponsoring public events to renew interest.
Tuesday’s action was held to draw attention to The Trail of DREAMs – the four month journey from Miami, FL, to Washington, D.C. by immigrant students to demand immediate relief for suffering immigrant communities. Drawing inspiration from the civil rights movement, four students embarked on a 1,400 mile walk to bring public attention to the barriers immigrant college students are facing and the failed immigration system that is tearing families apart.
The Trail of DREAMs, together with several other actions across the country, are taking place throughout the United States. Other actions include a 17-day fast from South Florida’s Fast for Our Families asking the Obama Administration to use its executive power to stop separating families and criminalizing immigrant communities. In Phoenix, AZ, ten thousand immigrant rights advocates marched in front of a county jail came out to protest Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his repression of unauthorized immigrants. While these sponsored events are local in nature, they have received nationwide support from activists frustrated by the slow response by Congress and the Obama Administration.
“The administrationâ€™s missteps in conceding advantage to a wildly unrepresentative far-right fringe is producing real anger among many people that heralded the 2008 election,” said Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA de Maryland. “We are here to mark one year of inaction and remind the administration that immigrants and people who love them are suffering every day that it refuses to take action,” said Mr. Torres.
Participating in today’s actions were representatives of a broad group of organizations including CASA de Maryland, the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), Jobs With Justice, the Miami Worker Center, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), the South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice Center, and We Count! Community Worker Center as well as hundreds of immigrant workers, faith leaders, labor activists, and community leaders.
More to come.
Information provided by CASA de Maryland
Here is an exclusive video, an interview with Maria Rodriguez, executive director of Florida Immigrant Coalition