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Hundreds In San Francisco, Los Angeles Protest ICE Deportation Raids Targeting Central American Refugees

 

ICE out of San FransiscoOn Tuesday, hundreds of demonstrators in San Francisco and Los Angeles held simultaneous actions in protest of recent ICE immigration raids targeting Central American women and children fleeing violence.

In downtown San Francisco, 200 demonstrators protested in front of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement building. Ultimately, 16 of the protesters who had chained themselves together and blocked multiple intersections were arrested, according to local reports.

 

 

The protesters called on government officials to recognize these families — many of whom have fled violence and death in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala — as refugees.

According to recent reports, more than 17,000 people were murdered in 2015 in the “Northern Triangle countries,” with El Salvador — a nation with a population smaller than New York City — now ranking as the murder capital of the world.

“We need to recognize people currently fleeing Central America a legitimate refugees and also political asylum seekers” because of the violence there, Berkeley student Christopher Lopez, 22, said.

Manuel De Paz, who works with the Berkeley-based organization East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, said the protest is meant to put pressure on government officials and to create awareness about the violence happening in Central America.

“We know that many of these people are fleeing because of gang violence, so many of these children are at serious risk of losing their lives … People are very afraid,” De Paz said.

“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], and unfortunately the detention center didn’t recognize this as a reason for political asylum and unfortunately he was deported back to Honduras,” Lopez said.

In Los Angeles, where the crowd swelled to about 300 people according to police, another eight activists were arrested after they also chained themselves together in the middle of a downtown intersection.

“I’m doing this for all the families who are being separated, for the children who are being traumatized, and for community members who are currently at risk of being deported,” said Luis Enrique Gonzales, one of the protesters.