As immigration reform was put on the back burner while Congress attempted to reach a budget agreement that would end the shutdown, activists still hoped to incite change. In order to show that reform is still an important issue, activists held a series of rallies on Oct. 14 in two different Arizona cities.
According to the International Business Times, immigration reform activists congregated outside the Eloy Detention Center in Eloy, Ariz. Those gathered chained themselves to a fence outside the facility to protest the deportation of illegal immigrants who are held there. Their actions were meant to block vehicles from entering or leaving the building.
“Even with the government shut down, the deportation machine keeps running,” Marisa Franco, a campaign organizer for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, told the IBTimes. “Keeping our families together is essential to our community, even if tearing them apart is still seen as an essential aspect of the government.”
Rally for change
According to Arizona Central, later that same day, protesters met outside the Phoenix offices of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.The plan was to prevent buses carrying detained immigrants from leaving the facility. However, when protesters arrived, the parking lot was empty and the building was apparently deserted. The Department of Homeland Security in Arizona usually keeps buses in the back of the facility for the purpose of transporting detainees to detention centers in Eloy and Florence.
Since Oct. 14 was Columbus Day, which is a federal holiday, phone calls to the office were not answered. Police stood watch as the rally went on, but no one was arrested.
Call on the president
Protesters at both events called on President Obama to end the deportations through executive order. Pew Research Center data shows that in 2011, 392,000 illegal immigrants were removed from the country. In fact, the Obama administration has already deported more undocumented immigrants than the George W. Bush administration did over the course of its eight years in office. That is one reason why 59 percent of Latinos polled by Pew disapproved of how the president has handled deportation.