CHICAGO – Twenty-four pro-immigrant activists were arrested Tuesday in Chicago for blocking undocumented immigrants from being taken away for deportation for almost two hours.
The act of civil disobedience was organized by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, or ICIRR, and other groups as a protest against deportations and in solidarity with undocumented aliens in Arizona, where a new law makes being in the country illegally a misdemeanor.
“We’re tired of the federal government’s inaction,” Tania Unzueta, of the Immigrant Youth Justice League, told Efe.
Among those arrested outside the Broadview Detention Center in suburban Chicago were ICIRR Executive Director Joshua Hoyt, several members of the clergy, and students, according to Unzueta.
She said that around 6:00 a.m. they sat down in two rows in the street in front of the main entrance to the center where U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement processes undocumented immigrants, and blocked several vans from taking people to where they would be deported.
“They were there almost two hours until the police arrived and moved them without violence,” Unzueta said.
Those in custody were to be fined and then released several hours later.
The activist said that the protest was the first step in a national civil disobedience movement to protest against the government policy of arrests and deportations for undocumented immigrants “without there being a path to legalization.”
Several hours before, a vigil of some 250 people was held in front of the Broadview Detention Center to demand that President Barack Obama issue an executive order putting an end to raids and deportations.
The ICIRR said Tuesday’s action was also a gesture of solidarity with immigrants in Arizona and a response to the recently passed SB1070 law that “criminalizes undocumented immigrants.”
Arizona’s move is a direct consequence of the Obama administration’s failure to push for immigration reform, the ICIRR said.
In a separate act, the Rev. Jose Landaverde, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Episcopal Church in Chicago’s La Villita neighborhood, said that “stopping this bad example of racial profiling in Arizona” is an urgent matter.
“We will come out in protest, without worrying about whether we end up in jail, to show that the resistance movement is growing,” he said.
The ICIRR insisted that by April 30 the U.S. Senate must begin debating an immigration reform bill, which must be voted on by June 15, under threat of more street protests and civil disobedience.
On Saturday, May 1, there will be a march and rally in the square in front of Chicago city hall, together with the May Day celebrations, with participants carrying photos and other mementos of family members who have been deported. EFE