Dozens of immigrants and advocates rallied in Washington, D.C., on Monday Feb. 17 in support of immigration reform and some arrests were made. These advocates were urging President Barack Obama to stop deporting undocumented immigrants. Civil rights activists and religious leaders joined the ranks of undocumented immigrants and prayed with them that families would not be separated by deportation proceedings. Since President Obama took office in 2009, nearly 2 million undocumented immigrants have been deported, a rate that is rapidly outpacing that of former President George W. Bush.
Many individuals who have been detained or deported do not have any criminal record and have not committed any crime, but their families are being torn apart when they are forced to leave the U.S. One of the religious advocates at the rally in Washington argued that there is no clear and easy path to citizenship for many undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for several years, and are known members of their communities, have businesses and attend church. If deportations stopped, many immigrants would be allowed to remain in the country under a legislative deal.
Opponents to immigration reform believe that while the laws should be changed to address the economic needs in the U.S., immigrants who did not lawfully enter the country should not be allowed to stay. They argue that providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants would threaten public and national safety. Advocates for immigrant rights believe keeping families intact and allowing immigrants to live and work in the U.S. will help the economy and social structure of the entire nation. The AFL-CIO and pro-immigration groups argue that President Obama should use his executive authority to expand a 2012 decision that halted deportations of young people brought to the United States illegally by their parents.