Demonstrators blocked traffic in downtown Los Angeles and surrounded an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) building in San Francisco today, protesting a recent increase in immigration raids targeting Central American women and children.
Many immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have legitimate claims to asylum after being subjected to abuses in their home countries.
“I'm taking part of this action because our familias and community can't continue to live under the abusive presence of ICE. I've seen the harm deportations have caused in my family and I don't want to experience it again," said Yadira Sanchez, one of the protestors in San Francisco, in a statement. "I'm taking a stand against the deportations of Central American refugee families who are fleeing violence imposed by U.S. foreign policies.”
The Obama administration has deported more than 2.5 million people since 2009, more than any president. The recent ICE raids have been condemned not only by latino leaders and advocacy organizations but also by 22 house democrats, who on the day of the State of the Union sent the president a letter calling for their end.
But there don't appear to be any signs that the raids will stop. "While we recognize the serious underlying conditions that cause some people to flee their home countries, we cannot allow our borders to be open to illegal migration," said White House spokesman Peter Boogaard, according to NBC. "Those who come here illegally will be sent home after being provided an opportunity to have their cases and humanitarian claims heard, consistent with our laws and values."