Don’t deport immigrant families

November 19, 2010

CHICAGO--As many American families begin to prepare for the holiday season, immigrant families are taking to the streets just to ensure that they can spend the holidays together.

A determined crowd of about 100 protesters gathered inside Chicago's Daley Center, which houses federal courts, on November 15 to demand a moratorium on deportations. The action was organized by Familias Latinas Unidas, a community group with close ties to Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.).

The majority of participants were no older than 18 years old; they were joined by college students, community members, clergy and war veterans. Together they marched from the Daley Center to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Courthouse in downtown Chicago, where two students and a priest were arrested for civil disobedience.

"We are doing this for the kids at home that are being separated from their parents; we can no longer stand by and let this happen," said Father Jose Landaverde, one of the arrestees.

The three sat down and blocked the entrance to the 10-story building where deportation cases are processed daily, while the energetic crowd surrounded them and shouted slogans like; "ICE ain't nice, shut it down" and "Sí se puede."

In a call for solidarity, Tania Lozano, one of the students who was arrested and member of Familias Latinas Unidas, urged those who are citizens to stand side-by-side with immigrant families.

The community group said that the civil disobedience will continue every Monday until a moratorium is declared. This is an ambitious demand, given that many in the immigrant rights movement face demoralization, in the wake of setbacks, including the recent defeat of the DREAM Act.

During the past year, the Obama administration, which promised immigration reform, has surpassed the annual rate of deportations that were in place under George W. Bush. At the same time, it has ramped up enforcement through federal programs like E-verify, Secure Communities and a militarized border.

And even though the Democratic administration has displayed downright hostile toward the immigrant rights movement, activists were still called upon to suspend their criticisms and turn out the vote for Democratic candidates.

Now that the Republicans have a majority in the House, and the Democrats are claiming that they can't keep their promises, activists will have to build a new movement to defend the rights of immigrants in the streets that involves everyone--with or without papers--to end deportations and family separation in time for the holidays.

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