This is what direction looks like. This is what courage looks like. Eight men and women were arrested this morning in Elizabeth attempting to block the deportation of other men and women federal immigration authorities consider “illegal.”
A coalition of seven organizations planned the protest, including acts of civil disobedience, to mark International Human Rights Day. It was part of a national campaign—“Not One More Deportation.’’ The protest took place outside the privately owned Elizabeth Detention Center, a prison used by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“We are trying to create pressure on the President to stop deportations,’’ said Christian Zamarron, an organizer for New Jersey Communities United. “He has used prosecutorial discretion to stop the deportation of dreamers. He can use executive action now to stop these deportations.’’
The term “dreamers” is generally used to describe the children of immigrants who came to the US without documentation.
The other organizations involved in the action were Unidad Latina en Accion, Casa Freehold, Wind of the Spirit, Pax Christi, First Friends, and the National Day Labor Organizing Network.
“Our specific goal was to stop a van taking some people to the airport for deportation,” said Zamarron. “But our larger goal is putting an end to deportation, especially now when the issue is before Congress. The very people who would be helped by the bill that already has passed the Senate are being deported now.’’
Zammaron said the Obama administration is on track to deport two million people, more than under any other president. He said the current administration is “criminalizing immigrants” and that, he said, “is a very dangerous development.’’
Those arrested bound themselves together using lock boxes that had to be sawed away by firefighters. They lay in the snow, peacefully accepting their arrests. The coalition is raising money for their bail. See Unidad Latina en Accion Facebook page for instructions on how to help.
Taken into custody were Carlos Canales, Rita Dentino, and Daniel Goldstein of Casa Freehold; Donna Mejia and Ilanna Rossoff of Wind in the Spirit; and Ligia Schrager, Jorge Torres, and Roberto Vaca of Unidad Latina en Accion.
Ligia’s husband David said his wife chose to be arrested because “she knows of many people who have to live errible lives because of the fear of deportation.’’
He criticized the Obama administration for its aggressive deportation policies and said at least some of the motivation came from what he called the “:prison industrial complex”—lobbbyists who are pushing prison for profits.
Zammaron said NJ Communities United participated in the action because, “We are concerned about the exploitation of workers.’’ The day before, the same organization helped organize a march in Newark against the policies of the school superintendent appointed by Gov. Chris Christie.
“We are fighting for workers. We are fighting against the foreclosure of houses owned by the poor. And we fight for education. It is all part of the same struggle.’’