Today, 14 brave activists were arrested in Washington, DC as part of an action demanding that the Obama Administration end immigration raids and deportations of vulnerable individuals back to Central American violence. The groups involved in the action included Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM),We Are CASA, Junta for Progressive Action, USEU, New Day Christian Church, Connecticut Students for a Dream, Dreamers Mothers in Action, UltraViolet, Center for Community Change, Alianza Americas, The General Board of Church and Society, CARECEN, CISPES, DREAMers of Virginia, Dreamer’s Moms, ActionAid USA, Washington Peace Center, United We Dream and more.
Led by Kica Matos, from the Center of Community Change, others arrested included Oscar A Chacon, Alianza Americas; Eric Cruz Lopez, Connecticut Students for a Dream; Joanna del Carmen Beltrán Girón, USEU; Reuben Eckels, New Day Christian Church; Emma Escobar, The General Board of Church and Society; Rachel Lynne Gittinger, CARECEN; Sarah LaEuna Palazzolo, CARECEN; Evelyn Nunez, Washington Lawyer’s Committee (but not representing the Committee, acting as an individual); Carlos Alberto Parada-Ayala, a directly impacted person; Ana María Rivera-Forastieri, Junta for Progressive Action; Patricia Ann Rogucki, We Are CASA; Alicia R. Schmidt Camacho, Junta for Progressive Action; and Audine Tayag, UltraViolet.
Contrary to the Administration’s point of view, this is a refugee situation and should be handled as a humanitarian issue rather than an enforcement priority. As several recent studies have highlighted, violence is driving people from their homes in Central America and they are coming north in search of safety. One comprehensive study by Elizabeth Kennedy, a San Diego State University social scientist, found that 83 deportees have been murdered upon their return to Central America since January 2014.
During a recent naturalization ceremony at the National Archives, President Obama reflected that many ‘Central American teenagers running from gang violence’ have looked to America seeking ‘shelter from nightmares.’ Unfortunately, too many of those very same people being targeted for deportation have not received full and fair legal proceedings—including access to legal counsel—in order to plead their case. As a nation, we need to be looking for every available option to protect, instead of deport, those fleeing from unspeakable violence.
America’s Voice Education Fund applauds the bravery of those arrested today, as well as all refugees and immigrants who challenge our country to live up to its highest ideals.
Click here for photos and Twitter coverage of the event.