A project of the Center for Community Change

IMMIGRANT RIGHTS ACTIVISTS ARRESTED IN FRONT OF WHITE HOUSE

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Contact: Carlos Vogel, cvogel@communitychange.org (202) 460-0713
 
Leaders Call on President Obama to Stop Raids on Central American Immigrants
 
(WASHINGTON) —Fourteen people were arrested today in front of the White House as immigrant rights, social justice, and faith groups, along with directly impacted families called on President Obama to stop the raids and deportations of Central American refugees. The raids have already resulted in the death of 83 asylum seekers in 2014, including mothers and their children.
 
“Look around you, and you will see 83 crosses. These crosses stand for 83 immigrant deaths that took place in 2014. All 83 immigrants came here to escape the terrible violence taking place in their home countries,” said Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) spokesperson Kica Matos. “Instead of welcoming them and giving them the protection that they so desperately needed, our government arrested them, put them in detention centers, and deported them, with some being killed upon their return. Angel Diaz was shot to death on a bus four days after being deported. If the raids and deportations continue, President Obama will be responsible for the possible harm or even death of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Their blood will be on his hands.”
 
“The President already deported 83 asylum seekers to their deaths, and each day I fear that one of the children I know will add to this number,” said Rachel Gittinger, Director of Citizenship and Civic Engagement at the Central American resource Center (CARECEN).  “The President must choose now between a legacy of compassion and protection, or death and deportation.  I am appalled that his choice to date has been the latter, and I urge the administration to stop the raids, designate the Northern Triangle as TPS recipients, and treat refugee children and families fleeing violence with the dignity and compassion they deserve as fellow humans.” 
 
Here is the list of participants who were arrested (quotes below from some of the participants):
*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    
*Kica Matos, Center for Community Change/FIRM      
*Evelyn Nunez , Washington Lawyer’s Committee (but not representing the Committee, acting as an individual) 
*Carlos Alberto Parada-Ayala, 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, Inc.         
*Audine Tayag, UltraViolet 
 
The groups participating include: FIRM, We Are CASA, Junta for Progressive Action, Inc, 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, and impacted families.
 
Endorsing organizations: America’s Voice Education Fund, American Civil Liberties Union, Alianza Americas, Central American Resource Center, CHIRLA, Disciples Refugee and Immigration Ministries, ICIRR, Mia, National Immigration Law Center, National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC), National Organization for Women, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), RI4A, Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network (SIREN), Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), Texas Organizing Project, Ultraviolet, USEU, We Belong Together
 
 Here are additional quotes from people who were arrested:
 
Eric Cruz Lopez, University of Connecticut Math Education student and undocumented immigrant from Mexico:“ I am taking part in this civil disobedience because I am tired of the fear that has been entrenched in the communities I am a part of, but most of all because I don’t want to walk into the classroom and find that some of my students have been deported to their deaths.”
 
Alicia Schmidt Camacho, Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity, Race, and Migration at Yale University: “As people of conscience, we have a responsibility to hold our government accountable for the needless loss of life and terror arising from misdirected deportation policies. The Central American refugees who have been denied protection are not strangers or lawbreakers — they are our parents, our sisters and brothers, our neighbors and friends; they build our communities as they work beside us, send their kids to school, and worship with us. If we deny their claims to refuge, we deny the most basic values of we the people.”
 
Oscar A. Chacón, co‐founder and executive director of Alianza Americas: “We are indeed dealing with a humanitarian crisis in Central America. One that is producing refugees. As a nation, we are not responding appropriately to this crisis. Instead, we are rounding people up and sending them back. In light of what we know about the region, and as recent news reports confirm, this amounts to sending people back to their deaths. The Obama Administration must reconsider its current policy approach. Beyond granting individualized protection, Temporary Protected Status should be granted to these refugees. The real question is, are we going to protect, or are we going to deport children and families whose countries are in no condition to take them back?” 
 
Rev. Reuben D. Eckels, Pastor of New Day Christian Church: “Today, as I take a stand against this injustice, I stand with and for the 83 people who died being detained and deported by the Obama administration. I stand with the hundreds and thousands of families living in the shadow of fear. Believing that this nation will live up to the pledge of allegiance that one day we will be a nation that stands for liberty and justice for all. No American, especially Americans such as myself, an African-American who ancestors were the recipients of harsh persecution, can or should sit by and not speak out against this tyranny.”
 
Evelyn Nunez, daughter of Mexican immigrants: “It is incomprehensible that Obama’s administration is meeting a humanitarian crisis with violent raids and actively denying refugees their right to seek asylum with appropriate legal representation. “In the face of our government’s negligence and violation of human rights, we will not stand by as asylum seekers are sent back to their deaths and we will defend our communities.”
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