Last month, seven undocumented immigrants handcuffed themselves to the White House fence to call on the President to expand deferred action to stop deportations as they announced plans to Shut Down ICE in Phoenix on today’s date.
On Friday, protestors locked themselves to the wheels of buses carrying detainees destined for Operation Streamline, a federal court they cite as the worst example of the criminalization of immigrants. As a result of the protest, it’s reported that those on the bus were immediately repatriated instead of facing felony convictions and months in private prisons before being deported.
After two days of conferencing over the weekend, the Day of Action to Shut Down ICE began with six people, including Sandy Estrada who’s brother has been in detention for nearly a year, chaining themselves together on the entry road to the notorious privately-run Eloy Detention Center. After bringing attention to the facility and disrupting its activities, protestors unchained and joined several hundred in Phoenix for a march and protest determined to prevent any deportations from being processed through the building today.
The protest transformed the building with papel picado, decorations, and banners that read “Mr. President, stop deportations, not one more” and “Sorry, we’re closed by the people.” The protest itself became a dance party in the driveway of ICE with no buses or vans moving in or out.
“This building coordinates the deportation of our loved ones every day of the year. Even on Christmas, ICE packs people onto deportation buses,” explains Marisa Franco of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. “But when their work is brought into the public eye, it becomes clear that ICE is more afraid of an organized community than we are of it. The fear that ICE showed today will only be a catalyst for more courageous actions in the future. The chasm is widening between the political fiction in Washington and the reality in our communities. As the President marches toward the 2 million deportation mark, we will continue to do what any mother or father would do to keep their family together and turn him around. This is just the beginning.”
Carlos Garcia of the Puente Movement adds, “Through people power, we’ve done what the President refuses to do: stop deportations in Phoenix, at least for a day. Over the last four days, we have exposed the workings of the deportation system across the state of Arizona, highlighting the often-invisible ways that deportation and detention rip our community apart. When we expose the inhumane workings of the deportation system, the policy-makers and enforcers hide instead of being confronted with the damage they do to our families. We will do everything in our power to stop deportations and the President should do the same. Until he stops deportations, people all across the country will continue to stop them themselves.”