Immigration Reform News: 16 Activists Arrested During Rally Against Deportation Raids in San Francisco
California police arrested 16 people at an immigrant rights protest in San Francisco on Tuesday for disrupting traffic in the city's Financial District.
Over 200 demonstrators rallied near the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in San Francisco at 630 Sansome St. Tuesday morning in protest against the White House's deportation raids targeting Central American families. According to reports, ICE has apprehended 121 Central Americans across multiple states so far this month.
Protesters say the raids are rounding up undocumented immigrants who should be granted refugee status since they fled their homes to escape ongoing violence in countries like El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. As a result, sending them back to their home countries puts their lives in jeopardy, activists say.
Government officials, on the other hand, justify the raids as a deterrent to immigrants from illegally crossing the border. The Department of Homeland Security has even announced they may expand the raids to include undocumented children who entered the U.S. without a guardian.
In effort to stop the deportations of immigrants fleeing violence, protesters chained themselves together and blocked off intersections near the ICE office, while other demonstrators marched in circles around them, reports KRON 4.
Ten protesters chained themselves together at the corner of Sansome and Washington streets, blocking traffic in all directions, while six other chained demonstrators blocked traffic at the corner of Sansome and Washington streets.
San Francisco police spokeswoman officer Grace Gatpandan said those 16 protesters were arrested for disregarding police orders to move. They were then taken into custody and cited for refusing to comply with an officer's order and failure to yield the traffic right-of-way before being released.
Still, protesters said risking their temporary freedom is a light sacrifice to save the lives of immigrants.
"I'm doing this for one of my cousins who was deported twice in the same year after he tried to flee after being jumped into the Mara Salva Trucha [gang]," said 22-year-old Berkeley student Christopher Lopez, a chained protester who was arrested at the rally.
"Unfortunately, the detention center didn't recognize this as a reason for political asylum and unfortunately he was deported back to Honduras.
"We need to recognize people currently fleeing Central America a legitimate refugees and also political asylum seekers [because of the violence there]."
Protester Kitzia Esteva, an organizer with Causa Justa :: Just Cause, said her organization has seen several immigrants taken into custody as a result of raids.
"Those raids leave no space for rehabilitation or real needs, and treat people like they're disposable," she said, according to Mission Local.
In response to the protest, ICE officials released a statement defending the raids.
"The Department of Homeland Security remains committed to sensible, effective immigration enforcement that focuses on its priorities," reads the statement.
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