Arizona Community Press | www.azcommunitypress.org
On Monday, October 14th in Arizona Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the federal government were put on notice. Their message to President Obama: “If you are not going to take action we will take to the streets”. The morning began as protestors blocked the road into the Eloy Detention Center. In the afternoon people gathered for a planned march to ICE building in downtown phoenix for a “shut down”. Both actions were organized to say that deportations and criminalization of immigrants “must be stopped”.
Following on the heels of civil disobedience that shut down Operation Streamline in Tucson on Friday and a conference this past weekend a group of activists chained themselves together and blocked the entrance to the Eloy Detention Center on Monday morning.
Video taken by National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON)
#Not1MoreDeportation Campaign reported, “One of the protestors, 16 year old Sandy Estrada of Phoenix, AZ, whose brother has been detained in Eloy for nearly a year after being arrested on work-related charges, says, “I’m doing this to show my brother and all the other people inside that we support them and we will do what it takes to get them out. I want the President to know that everyone deserves to be with their families and that he can stop our pain.”
Later in the morning as the blockade in Eloy was coming to an end people gathered at Margaret T. Hance Park for a march to the ICE building in downtown Phoenix. These events were organized by Puente Arizona, NDLON, and #Not1MoreDeportation Campaign. People traveled from California, Chicago, Alabama, Georgia, Minnesota, Washington and Boston to join the Arizona migrant community for this “shut down” and march. Others groups who were present to show their solidarity with the families facing deportation and migrant community included United Farm Workers, Phoenix Chapter of Industrial Workers of the World, Arizona Code Pink and National Domestic Workers Alliance.
On Friday Phoenix ICE issued a statement saying they would be closed on Monday and placed a letter on the gate at the entrance to the building. Even though this information had been announced hundreds of people came out.
There were many very colorful flags, banners and a large puppet. These banners showed how art and words can be used to fight back in a peaceful way. At the park there was a rally, dancing and a ceremony before taking the streets.
When the march reached ICE people began to decorate the gates with paper flowers, banners and signs. In front of the gates music and a dance party broke out in celebration of resistance. Even though a half a dozen of Sherriff Joe Arpaio’s supporters stood across the street it did not diminish the excitement the crowd felt.
The actions of the past four days were not only a message for lawmakers here in Arizona but to both Congress and President Obama that the migrant community is no longer going to remain quiet about Washington’s immigration policies. “This building coordinates the deportation of our loved ones every day of the year. Even on Christmas, ICE packs people onto deportation buses,” explains Marisa Franco of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. “Today we say not one more. Until the President stop deportations, we will stop them ourselves.”
Carlos Garcia of Puente Arizona adds “Through people power, we’ve done what the President refuses to do: stop deportations in Phoenix, at least for a day. Over the last four days, we have exposed the workings of the deportation system across the state of Arizona, highlighting the often-invisible ways that deportation and detention rip our community apart. When we expose the inhumane workings of the deportation system, the policy-makers and enforcers hide instead of being confronted with the damage they do to our families. We will do everything in our power to stop deportations and the President should do the same.”