Immigration reform advocates are no strangers to protests or demonstrations. Over the last year, there have been numerous rallies to try and encourage politicians to make some real changes in immigration reform.
There seems to be a recent surge in these efforts in the last couple of weeks. Part of this renewed effort is centered around the idea that President Obama should put a freeze on deportations. With this in mind, there were more than 50 scheduled “Day of Action” events planned throughout the United States. Those involved in these demonstrations believe that the president has the authority to stop removal proceedings.
Closeby, in Eloy, there were more than 100 individuals who met near the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) detention center. The majority of these supporters traveled from Phoenix in order to be a part of this demonstration. According to one of the organizers with Puente Arizona, Natally Cruz, many of those who attended the event have family members who have been detained in the center for over a year.
Cruz entered the U.S. when she was only 8 years old and without documentation. “We want President Obama and his administration to really hear our community members across the country, to understand we do not want one more person separated," said Cruz. "One family every night goes to bed missing somebody in their family."
During these protests, participants carried signs as they marched up and down the streets. These signs called for “Not 1 More Deportation” and pleaded for deferred deportation action for all immigrants. Among the people carrying signs was a woman whose son has been detained in the Eloy facility for almost three years.
During the Eloy demonstration, the local police had five officers monitoring the event. Officers described the protest as peaceful, with no arrests. In addition to comments made by Eloy police officers, ICE has come out and said that it “respects the rights of people to protest outside its facilities.”
Amber Cargile, an ICE spokesperson in Phoenix, said that the agency continues to “work with Congress to enact commonsense immigration reform, ICE remains committed to sensible, effective immigration enforcement that focuses on its priorities, including convicted criminals and those apprehended at the border while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States."
Across the country, in New York City, a group of more than 50 individuals stood outside a federal immigration office. Humayun Chowdhury is a cab driver in NYC and was detained by immigration officers for more than a year. He was able to be released with the help of his community. He joins the demonstration as a way of giving back.
At the time of his initial arrest, Chowdhury was at home with his young son. Now 14 years old, Maheen Chowdhury said his father's absence “put the entire family in a tailspin.” Maheen said the family had trouble finding food to eat and his mother was constantly in tears. They were even forced to sell their family car in order to get some money. The Chowdhury family hopes that an immigration reform bill gets passed soon in order to prevent more families from having to go through the same things they were forced to endure.