At 7 AM on Tuesday, January 26—in other words, yesterday—a group of pro-immigration protesters gathered outside of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices in Los Angeles, linking arms in a circle that blocked the intersection. They used a device called a “sleeping dragon”—which involves handcuffs and PVC pipe—in order to make it difficult for law enforcement agents to move them. The protesters demanded that the ICE stop deporting Central American immigrant families and instead recognize them as refugees seeking asylum. According to NBC LA, the protests “come after 22 Democratic senators asked President Obama to stop the recent round of deportation raids.” These senators argue that because women and children face the threat of fatal violence in Central America, the issue of their illegal immigration should be evaluated not as “a border security and immigration enforcement matter,” but rather a “humanitarian and refugee crisis.” They suggest that the U.S. temporarily allow immigrants from Central America to stay until it is safe for them to return.
Nonetheless, White House spokesman Peter Boogaard said that “we cannot allow our borders to be open to illegal migration” despite the “serious underlying conditions that cause some people to flee their home countries.” The at least 121 people who’ve been detained in recent raids have already been ordered to leave the United States by courts. This statistic exists in the context of the Obama administration’s more than 2.5 million deportations since 2009—“more than any president,” according to Fusion.
The protesters in LA were echoed by others who surrounded an ICE building in San Francisco. In both cities’ demonstrations, protesters were arrested.