Activists in St. Paul, MN, blocked two parking lot exits at a federal building to demand an end to U.S. immigrant detention centers.
About 200 people blocked cars at the Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Building, where people have been detained in the basement as they await immigration hearings, which Mpls.St.Paul Magazine called “deportation court.”
The protest was organized by The Twin Cities chapter of Never Again Action.
According to Courtney Godfrey at Fox 9, federal employees could not exit: “Workers from MnDOT, Veterans Affairs, and Metro Transit commuters, who use the park and ride, are among those who are unable to get their cars out.”
Carin Mrotz, the executive director of Minnesota social justice group Jewish Community Action, wrote that a driver drove his car into the crowd at a relatively slow speed.
According to witnesses, at least two cars drove into the crowd. One was faster at about 10-15 miles per hour. No one was visibly seriously hurt, they said.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson said in response to recent protests: “ICE has taken additional security measures to ensure employee safety and the security of all offices. ICE operations across the country have and will continue to proceed as normal despite these events. ICE fully respects the Constitutional rights of all people to peacefully express their opinions. ICE remains committed to performing its immigration enforcement mission consistent with federal law and agency policy.”
In October 2018, Sheila Mulrooney Eldred at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine described the traumatizing process for people detained in the building, caught in the Kafkaesque U.S. immigration system:
Wednesdays start with individual hearings—usually the final hearing, where an immigrant’s fate will be decided. In the basement, 11 detained immigrants will wait in a holding cell for their afternoon hearings. “Detained” means jailed, but it’s more like a floating imprisonment in a variety of lockups, which can shift the detainee from county to county and state to state.
Some of them will be able to stay in the country. The recent court outcomes suggest a lot more of them won’t.