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HOUSTON, TX. – Today, 100 immigrant youth from across Texas and across the country protested the Obama administration’s harsh immigration enforcement policies that continue detaining families, including children, and separating thousands of people from their loved ones.
The 100 peaceful protesters sang, chanted and engaged in a symbolic “die-in” to represent the lives, dreams and families which end because of the Obama Administration’s policy of forcing local police to operate as immigration agents.
The activists engaged in their actions in front of several buildings where Obama’s policies are being carried out: the Harris County Corrections Department, Harris County Sheriff’s Office & Jail Facility, Baker Street Jail, Harris County Jail Facility & Detention Center. They were met by police in riot gear who said they felt threatened by by the youth leaders and who followed the activists in unmarked cars through the streets of Houston for over an hour after the crowd had dispersed.
Cristina Jimenez, managing director for United We Dream (UWD) said,
“We are here to say enough. Texas has become ground zero for President Obama’s immigration legacy of terrorizing immigrant communities with deportations and policies which turn local police into immigration agents.”
“Our members have been racially profiled, jailed and turned over to immigration agents because of Obama’s policies and the reality is that our communities continue to live in fear.
“The fact is that the Deferred Action for Parents and the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are stalled. But that doesn’t mean that Obama can continue building his deportation legacy while we wait for the courts.”
Maria Trevino-Rodriguez, a member of United We Dream and of the Youth Empowerment Alliance (YEA) at the University of Houston, a UWD affiliate said,
“Thousands of people from our community here in Houston have been unjustly detained as a result of Harris County’s partnership with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) through the 287 g program, a federal program that deputizes local jail officials to act as deportation agents.”
“Harris County deports more people than any other county in the country because of the 287 g program.”
“Immigrant communities across Texas will not stand by as Texas carries out the most deportations and detains more of our loved ones than any other state in the country.”
“We will continue our fight to get ICE out of our local communities, until we can live with full justice and dignity.”
Ricky Gonzalez, an LGTBQ immigrant and member of the Arizona Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project (AZ QUIP), a United We Dream affiliate group also said during the protest,
“The LGBTQ immigrant community is being criminalized every day simply for trying to survive in this country.”
“I escaped violence, discrimination, and abuse in Guatemala for being LGBT. I came to this country seeking freedom. After one year here, the police arrested me and I was in in prison for five months then transferred to an ICE detention center for an additional five months.”
“In detention, I was constantly abused because of my identity. The only way to end these abuses, that thousands from our community have to endure, is to end detention and collaboration between local law enforcement and federal immigration agents.”
Cesar Bautista-Sanchez, a member of Jóvenes Unidos Por Un Mejor Presente in Tennessee an affiliate group of United We Dream added,
“I am here with one hundred immigrant youth leaders from all across the country to call for an end to the collaboration of ICE with local police and jails.”
“We are here at the Harris County Jail to show the impact of Obama’s immigration enforcement policies.”
“Our community is tired of being afraid. Our community is tired of being criminalized.”
“The immigrant youth, who have come here from all across the country are here to say loud and clear that we are committed to fight for freedom and are committed to win!”