Immigration Activists Ensure October Isn't All About The Shutdown

By Kate Sheehy
October 14, 2013
Michel Marizco
Activists in favor of immigration reform protest around an ICE bus in Tucson on Friday.

Immigration reform has lost its place in the political spotlight, especially now while the nation anxiously awaits an end to the federal government shutdown. Fronteras Desk has been reporting on protests by immigration activists across the country this month as they attempt to boost reform back on to the main political stage.

On Monday, protestors in Phoenix are planning a shutdown of the city’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

During a recent protest in Tucson, activists chained themselves to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement buses full of people heading to deportation hearings. Protestors managed to delay hearings for the day last Friday.

In addition, thousands gathered last week on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and in 100 cities around the country demanding Congress prioritize immigration legislation. Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva was one of about six Representatives arrested during the protest in D.C.

It appears immigration advocates will not let up this month, despite the federal government’s and the mainstream media’s focus on the national budget crisis. Monday’s act of civil disobedience in Phoenix may not turn out to be what activists had hoped for, however. The ICE office is closed, apparently for the Columbus Day holiday.

It’s not clear whether or not this closure will also halt deportation proceedings. However, protesters say they still will carry on with a demonstration in front of the government building.

One of the issues that fuel many protests is the continued detainment of undocumented people who have not been convicted of a crime. The Obama administration has declared it will focus immigration enforcement on those who have committed serious crimes. But a recent report from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse shows that only about a third of the people for whom ICE requested detainers had been convicted of any crime.

President Barack Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program last year, allowing a reprieve from deportation for certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and are pursuing a military career or education. Now immigration advocates are calling on the president to extend DACA to the parents of young, undocumented immigrants. Obama has said he will not consider doing this.