BREAKING: United We Dream Shuts Down Detention Center and Delivers Message to President Obama and Speaker Boehner in His Own Backyard


This morning, United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led network in the country, brought more than 50 DREAMers and community leaders to Speaker John Boehner’s office in West Chester, Ohio, to deliver a Christmas tree bearing photos and messages from hundreds of immigrant families facing separation this holiday season.

After the event at Speaker Boehner’s office, the group caravanned to Butler County Detention Center and proceeded to shut down the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement facility.  Six leaders from North Carolina, including Yash Mori and Parth Thaker, who spoke about their experiences in Indian-American immigrant families, Maura Pereira, Oliver Merino, Luis Garcia and Lizette Diaz, who spoke about her fight for LGBT rights, courageously risked arrest for civil disobedience by chaining themselves together and blocking the entrance to facility.  View video from the action here and photos at UWD’s Facebook page.

“We are tired of empty promises for immigration reform. While President Obama talks about the need for reform, 1,100 people who would benefit from this policy change are deported every day. I have lived undocumented in this country for 3 years, and my family is tired of living in fear. If President Obama does not want to shut down the institutions that have terrorized our community for decades, we have to do it ourselves,” said Ramon Garibaldo Valdez, a leader with United 4 the Dream in North Carolina, a United We Dream affiliate.

United We Dream traveled to Ohio to send a message to both Speaker Boehner and President Obama: stop separating our families through deportation and pass legislation to keep them together.   This holiday season, thousands of families are facing the pain of separation because of a minor traffic violation or simply being here without papers, caught up in our broken system and President Obama’s reckless deportation record.

“As both Speaker Boehner and President Obama spend the holidays with their families, we’re here to remind them that we’re fighting for ours and all those who are separated,” said Antonio Castanon, a member of United We Dream’s National Coordinating Committee and leader with Youth Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, a UWD affiliate in Georgia. “Today, six brave individuals, representing 11 million undocumented immigrants, participated in an act of civil disobedience to highlight our need for relief and to hold President Obama accountable for separating 1,100 families every day.”

Immigration activists and community leaders shared their stories today in Ohio, chanting and demanding that both Speaker Boehner and President Obama do their job and end the pain in our community. Speaker Boehner needs to act on reform now, protecting our families from deportation and giving us a chance to fully contribute through a clear path to citizenship, and President Obama must stop tearing our families apart by halting senseless detentions and deportations.

“If President Obama refuses to stop the deportations and family separations, we will keep showing up and shutting down detention centers and escalating in 2014,” said Cristina Jimenez, Managing Director of United We Dream. “We will not stand by while our families are torn apart and we won’t let President Obama or Congress off the hook for the staggering cost of their inaction.  2014 will bring even more escalation and action; DREAMers are more committed than ever.”

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