Coast to coast demonstrators demand Biden close ICE centers

By Ana Milena Varon

Los Angeles, Mar 3 (EFE).- Demonstrators gathered in various cities coast to coast on Thursday to urge the Joe Biden administration to end migrant deportations and close all immigrant detention centers, thus fulfilling his promise for a “fair and humane” US immigration policy.

Defenders of immigrants’ rights and those affected by deportation gathered all across the country to ask the administration to release the more than 18,000 migrants currently being held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities and to end migrant deportations.

“A narrative similar to that of (now ex-President Donald) Trump just can’t continue. It’s not fair to keep thousands of immigrants detained who can continue their proceedings while at liberty, thus continuing to risk their health,” Isaias Guerrero, the spokesman for FIRM Action, which convened the protests along with dozens of other organizations, told EFE.

The demonstration in the US capital was held in front of the ICE offices, where people affected by deportation like Cristal Rojas, a US citizen whose mother was deported when she was just 5 years old, told about the pain of growing up alone.

“It’s been 16 years since they deported my mom and now I’m going to graduate and she can’t be at my side,” the student, who traveled from Arkansas to participate in the protest, said, adding, “The system is failing and it has to be fixed right now.”

The families who recounted their stories at some 20 events in different cities are not the only ones who are afraid of being separated by current US immigration laws, and deportation remains a significant concern for many undocumented Latinos in this country.

A recent study by the Pew Center found that 39 percent of Latinos in the US say that they’re worried that they, a relative or someone close to them could be deported.

Among Hispanic immigrants, 51 percent say they’re worried a great deal or somewhat about the prospect of deportation for them or someone close to them, and 28 percent of US-born Hispanics say they have the same concern.

Rebecca Talbot, the head of The Immigrant Action Alliance in Glades County, Florida, like other members of the same organization elsewhere in the country, demanded the closure of the local detention center in Moore Haven and all others in her state.

That facility, which currently houses only eight detainees, has a documented history of abusing detainees, Talbot said.

Activists with the Detention Watch Network, FIRM Action, American Friends Service Committee, United We Dream, and the We Are Home campaign were among the groups staging the protests.

Groups in various cities in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and California held various events and protests, most of them in front of detention centers or other ICE installations.

They also urged the federal government and Congress to work toward immigration reform that would legalize the status of the more than 11 million undocumented foreigners who are currently in danger of being deported.

EFE amv/msc/bp

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