This week immigrant and LGBT civil rights leaders from the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance (CIYJA) sat down in the Democratic congressional offices of Rep. Xavier Becerra and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, demanding their leadership to stop the deportations. The action was in solidarity with the hunger-strike at the White House to call on the President to stop deportations, which started Tuesday.
Specifically, CIYJA engaged in this civil disobedience tactic with three specific goals:
- Provide leadership within the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on ending deportations;
- Publicly call on the President to expand deferred action for all and stop all deportations immediately; and
- More actively serve to stop the cases of constituents in deportation proceedings
Neither Rep. Becerra nor Rep. Sanchez issued any statements and they refused to meet with CIYJA members. Instead, after a sit-in that lasted most of the day, Capitol police started arresting the protestors.
Civil rights leaders arrested include Kenia Alcocer, César Magallión, Mercedes Montano, Jonathan Bibiresca, Luis Ramirez, and Dulce Saavedra. They spent the night in D.C. jail.
The civil disobedience highlights a growing frustration in the Latino demographic with their politicians in D.C. Several members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have been incredibly weak on confronting the President on his immigration record, telling immigrant communities to wait for comprehensive immigration reform–a bill that is undeniably stalled in Congress, and does little to stop the devastating impact of deportations on immigrant communities.
While the CHC has joined the mad rush to send a memo to the President outlining how he can use his power to stop deportations, advocates believe that various members of the CHC are still dragging their feet when it comes to helping constituents fight deportations, and have refused to publicly call out the President on his devastating deportation machine.
In the meanwhile, the White House has come under incredible pressure to ease up on the record-breaking deportations. When faced with criticism from the Left, the President has lied about his deportation priorities and lied about his ability to provide relief, much like he did with young undocumented immigrants. As a result, he has alienated many advocates, and faces a growing movement of immigrant families who are now camping at his doorstep, hungry for relief.
Many immigrant civil rights leaders believe that they have a narrow window of opportunity to get the President to issue executive relief, and that beltway groups and politicians have only held them back, buying the President time to act on executive relief by pretending that immigration reform has some chance of passing the House this year.
We need leaders, not politicians, for our community. From Atlanta, Georgia to Seattle, Washington, the immigrant rights movement is united on stopping deportations as shown by the many demonstrations on April 5th. Since April 5th, advocates across the country have escalating their actions. Most notably, directly impacted families and immigrant justice advocates launching an indefinite hunger-strike at the White House, calling on the President to stop the deportations.
Will the President continue to detain and deport the families of the people who are hungry for relief at his doorstep? Will he get them arrested, instead, and continue to criminalize immigrant communities?