The constant cold rain didn’t dampen the resolve of immigrant rights advocates Tuesday afternoon rallying outside of the Federal Building in Manhattan to protest raids that wreak fear and panic in immigrant communities across the country. Faith leaders and affected immigrants were among those voicing their concerns.
Huddled under umbrellas, demonstrators held signs that read: No human is illegal, Don’t separate families. A young son with his father held the sign that read: Grant TPS (Temporary Protective Status) now.
One sign, on a black cut-out in the shape of a tombstone reads: “End Death by Deportation.” This refers to 83 deportees who were murdered after their deportations to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Participants of the “die-in” want to bring attention to the human cost of deporting refugees back to their home countries where they face violence and even death.
Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), a leading sponsor of the action says, “Mass deportation of individuals fleeing violence is not a viable solution and we are disappointed that the Obama administration once again has taken this enforcement heavy route in 2016.”
In late December, Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration (ICE) stepped up apprehension and deportation of people who had crossed the southern border after May 1, 2014.
By Jan. 8 almost half of mostly mothers and children detained only days before were deported. NYIC states while that recent ICE raids of Central Americans haven’t impacted New York State yet, ICE operations have been ramping up enforcement of priorities that have led to detention of community members in New York.
The protest in the rain, held on National Day of Action against Immigration Raids, started with a prayer by faith leaders continuing with comments from community members and those impacted by the pressure of these raids.
The call of the demonstrators was for Obama to stop the deportations.
“The ICE raids has had a chilling effect on all immigrant communities throughout New York City,” said Aracelis Lucero, executive director of Masa. “In the Mexican community, families are paralyzed by fear. This is why we are here today to call attention to these raids and to tell President Obama to end them now.”
Victoria Daza, an organizer with the Long Island DREAM Coalition said, “Since the beginning of the New Year, the announcement of nationwide ICE raids has struck fear into several communities living on Long Island.
ICE’s regional office in New York has stated that they are not targeting families, however this is simply not what the experience of many of the parents, children, and students we work with demonstrates.”
Demonstrators continued their actions by — dying — laying on the wet pavement to make their point.