By Seung Min Kim
August 28, 2014
More than 140 immigration activists were arrested in front of the White House on Thursday as they loudly protested President Barack Obama over deportations of undocumented immigrants.
The scores of arrests, which come as Obama is preparing to unveil changes to his deportation and immigration policies, amounted to one of the largest shows of civil disobedience at the White House over immigration.
“Today, on this national day to fight for families, we call on President Obama to do everything in his power to enact humane and compassionate administrative relief that will end our suffering,” said Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA de Maryland, a Latino advocacy group that organized Thursday’s demonstration.
The midday demonstration began at the headquarters of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in southwest Washington, where the hundreds gathered to chant: “Si se puede!” and “Not one more!” and children wore T-shirts that pleaded: “Don’t Deport My Mom.”
The activists then walked on streets that had been blocked off by police to the White House — about a mile and a half from ICE’s offices — with the protesters leading the march hauling a banner that read: “Pres. Obama Stop Deporting.”
When they reached 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue — still chanting — the large group of activists blocked a significant portion of the sidewalk in front of the White House as they continued to protest, prompting the arrests.
The U.S. Park Police said in a statement that 145 people were arrested and charged with blocking passage — a citation that carries a $50 fine. The protesters were being processed at the Park Police facility in Anacostia Park, and the sidewalk in front of the White House reopened around 3:15 p.m.
Obama is expected to make highly-anticipated administrative moves on immigration sometime in September. Activists are calling on Obama to provide the broadest executive action possible, such as expanding a program that shields young undocumented immigrants from deportations to millions more who are living here without legal status.
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