A project of the Center for Community Change

17 People, Including Four Minors, Arrested in Civil Disobedience Protest Advocating for Immigration Reform

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Contacts: Ricardo A. Ramírez (CCC/FIRM, on site), 202-905-1738, rramirez@communitychange.org
Donna De La Cruz (CCC/FIRM), 202-339-9331, ddelacruz@communitychange.org
Katy Green (UFW), 650-464-1545, katy@newpartners.com
Amanda Pohl (Virginia Organizing), 804-337-1912, amanda@virginia-organizing.org

 WASHINGTON – Today, 17 people, including four minors, were arrested inside the U.S. Capitol complex. Some of the young people have gone through the pain and anguish of losing a parent to deportation. Others live in fear of losing a loved one.

Supporters, families and leaders, including UFW President Arturo Rodríguez and volunteers from Virginia Organizing, engaged in an enhanced act of protest against family separation, part of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement’s (FIRM) phase of escalation, STOP SEPARATING FAMILIES. The act of civil disobedience is an outcry against a broken immigration system that works every day to separate their families.

The families went to the offices of House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. None of the leaders spoke to the families. The arrests were made outside of Boehner’s office.

Esteban Verdugo, 12, of Michigan, was one of the minors arrested. Esteban’s father was deported in June 2013.

“When I found out he was going to be deported I started crying, I am really afraid I will never see him again,” Esteban said. “I really want Congress to work to keep families from being separated and I hope that my dad can come back home very soon.”

In light of the family separation crisis, FIRM has called for a National Day to Stop Separating Families on June 28, where groups across the movement will coalesce in action. June 28th is the deadline our movement gave House Republicans for movement on immigration reform. Meantime, we demand that President Obama take immediate action against the needless deportation crisis that his administration has overseen.

“Ever since FIRM ramped up activity for relief last year, our young leaders have risen to the occasion and expressed desire to continue their advocacy in the form of civil disobedience. For our families, who live with the unbearable fear of losing loved ones every day, this is an empowering way to protest a broken system that works to break families apart. Our youth have become leaders in the movement because they want to stop the growing crisis in their communities that senseless and rampant deportations have caused,” said FIRM spokesperson Kica Matos.

“Our families will never stop fighting for immigration reform, and nothing has changed for us with House Majority Eric Cantor’s primary election loss last night,” Matos added.” For immigrant communities, there is still a moral crisis of family separation.”

Prior to his arrest today, Rodriguez of the UFW said House Republicans must act now or risk the end of their party’s existence.

“Either they act before the legislative window closes or they kiss the White House, and eventually Congress, goodbye for good,” Rodriguez said.

Ladelle McWhorter, Virginia Organizing’s Vice-Chairperson, was also arrested and said for nearly two years, House leadership has continually ignored letters, phone calls, emails and other forms of communications from immigrant rights organizations.

“Today, Virginia Organizing leaders are here to show Speaker Boehner, House leadership, and the rest of Congress that we are not backing down from immigration reform. In keeping with the history of civil disobedience in the fight for civil rights, Virginians are willing to be arrested to stand for justice for all people.”

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