Shutdown ICE: Arizona

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October 14, Eloy Detention Center courtesy of NDLON

Yesterday multiple community members and national organizations participated in back-to-back actions in Phoenix, AZ, aimed at shutting down Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE). Early in the morning, community members from across the country were successful in chaining themselves in front of the Eloy Detention Center, blockading the road entrance to the private detention center, and shutting it down. The actions called on President Obama to stop deportations and the criminalization of immigrants.

Among the six people who chained themselves was IYJLite, Jasmin Martinez De Jesus of Chicago whose parents are both undocumented.

 

We [Organized Communities Against Deportations Project of Undocumented Illinois] see an increase in people getting detained and put in deportation proceedings. consequently, regardless of the debate about reform deportations are increasing and they will keep increase, we are here to demand a stop to deportations and to shut down ICE.”

16 year old Sandy Estrada of Phoenix–whose brother has been detained in Eloy for nearly a year, after being arrested while he worked to raise money for his DACA application–also participated.

 

I’m doing this to show my brother and all the other people inside that we support them and we will do what it takes to get them out.  I want the President to know that everyone deserves to be with their families and that he can stop our pain.”

A father of a 13 year old who is undocumented and husband to a wife who is currently in deportation proceedings, immigrant Eleazar Muñoz Hernandez of Georgia, explained why he risked arrest:

 

It’s not fair that for one ticket people are deported. We are human and we want to be treated like humans. I want to put roots down in Georgia but that is considered wrong. We just want to survive.”

October 14, Eloy Detention Center courtesy of National People’s Action

Many of those inside Eloy have committed no major offense and instead are victims of Congress’ 34,000 minimum detention bed mandate. A mandate that is coupled with the racial profiling at the hands of Sheriffs and Police Departments like Arpaio, and Border Patrol’s requirement to fulfill the quota. A quota and bed mandate that have been the backbone and framework of President Obama’s daily forced removal of 1,100 people and the administratoin’s 2 million deportation record.

It is a pattern seen repeated outside of Arizona’s detention centers, across the United States, including the Midwest. For example, in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, people like Celio have been held for months and threatened to be forced to go to another country where soul and limb are threatened. Or Heriberto, a legal permanent resident with no felonies, who has been held in detention for more than half a year and threatened with forced deportation if he does not submit to voluntary departure.

The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA)-owned facility in Eloy has the capacity to jail 1,600 workers, fathers, students, grandparents, and daughters in what has become notoriously horrendous conditions.  It recently made headlines after two detainees committed suicide last March and more recently when the company placed DACA-eligible youth who reentered the country as a part of the Bring Them Home Campaign, into solitary confinement.

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October 14, Phoenix District Field Office courtesy of NDLON

The public and private operations of ICE go well beyond the walls of detention centers. They originate in the district ICE offices, like that of the Chicago-District Field Office that insists on deporting Octavio held in Dodge County Wisconsin, despite having lived in the United States for 27 years with his family and who has the support of the Mayor of his hometown in Illinois. These human rights violations, including deportations and incarcerations, also originate in the Phoenix-District Field Office where they are stamped with the Executive branch seal of approval. It is here where Monday’s actions culminated near the rally at Margaret T. Hance Park, and where a march to the ICE office took place – shutting down the district’s business of mass incarceration. Veronica Castro of National People’s Action, one of the national organizations participating in shutting down ICE, made it clear:

 

The President has the legal authority and moral responsibility to stop deportations. But until he uses it, NPA, and our partners will use every tool at our disposal to stop them ourselves. We cannot and will not sit by and watch the destruction of families all in the name of politics.”

Yesterday’s actions–including one on Friday where participants closed Operation Streamline in Tucson, a similar action in May at the front of a Chicago Democrat Party fundraiser, the White House’s front gates, and many others across the country–are part of the #Not1More Deportation campaign that urges President Obama to be go beyond the comprehensive reform stalemate, and use his executive authority to provide immediate relief by stopping deportations. On Indigenous People’s Day–a day that harbors the memories of the destruction of several communities–the continual, fast-paced, and systematic destruction of other communities today in this nation continues. And so too will the actions to Shutdown ICE.

October 11, Tucson Operation Streamline courtesy of NDLON

There is much more to come, to stay updated with the latest follow #Not1More and #ShutdownIce.

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