Hundreds of immigrants and activists from across the country are gathering for the #Not1More Deportation Campaign conference, a weekend-long series of events that will bring together anti-deportation activists to plan an upcoming strategy that will “escalate the fight against deportations of the Obama administration.”
Organizers expect over 300 people for the conference and say their goal is to send a clear message to President Barack Obama:
“We want the legalization of the 11 million undocumented,” said Pablo Alvarado, executive director for the National Day Laborers Organizing Network. “We want political equality, it’s as simple as that.”
The events began Friday as immigrant rights activists blocked buses carrying undocumented immigrants to federal criminal court in Tucson, Ariz. Many lined up, held hands and positioned themselves under a bus with their heads under the tires in hopes to shut down Operation Streamline, in which immigrants who have crossed the border illegally are immediately placed in the federal court system and placed in detention. Friday’s four-hour protest effectively halted immigration hearings for the day, but 18 people were arrested and charged with hindering prosecution, the Tucson Sentinel reported.
On Saturday the group gathers in Phoenix, Ariz., to discuss ways in which different communities are fighting back deportations, talk about litigations against ICE policies, plan public advocacy and point out specific examples, such as the story of Juan Jose Mangandi, an undocumented day laborer whose wife is undergoing deportation procedures.
“Denounce the pain caused by deportation,” Mangandi said in a #Not1More Deportation Campaign video.
During the conference, activists were also expected to discuss the state of California, where the legislature passed various bills that benefit the undocumented.
“Participants will be talking about how they can take it to their own places to see if it’s replicable,” Alvarado said.
Organizers hope that with their planned strategies, they will be able to put a stop to deportations nationwide.
“I know Republicans are blocking immigration reform but it’s President Obama who has the power to stop deportations,” Alvarado said. “If they did it with the students, now they can do it with the parents.”
According to Rep. Luis Gutierrez, (D-Ill.) the administration is approaching the milestone of two million deportations during Obama’s tenure in the White House.
“Thousands of kids are in foster homes,” Alvarado said. “It’s a human rights crisis, a moral crisis that the country needs to fix.”
On Sunday, the group pledged to “shut down” ICE through protests and peaceful civil disobedience. Organizers said this event will be their public outcry for the people who are incarcerated and for their families.
“Our communities can no longer wait for the President to rediscover his moral compass or for Congress to actually do its job,” said Marisa Franco of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. “We will do what any mother or father would do and keep our families together by preventing ICE from being able to tear them apart.”
By doing this, activists hope to highlight the stories of people suffering from deportations. According to Alvarado, the issue has become more than just the division of families, it has become a “human rights crisis.”
“We want to make sure that the suffering stops right now,” he said. “If the country doesn’t see that there is a human rights crisis this will continue to split families and cause a lot of pain.”