More than 200 protestors gathered Sunday morning at the Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson as part of a nationwide push to end unjust deportations and subsequent forced separations of immigrant families living in this country. The protestors marched to Tucson Police headquarters on Stone Ave., where activists called on local law enforcement to stop collaborating with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Patrol to effect these deportations.
“The community is bravely standing up to demand a change to the situation where everyday carries the threat of encountering one of the many different law enforcement agencies operating in a virtually ‘constitution free zone,” said Marisa Franco, member of the National Day Laborers Organizing Network. “[We] are taking action to call for a halt to deportations, for an end to the militarization of the border and for immigration reform that is inclusive to all.”
Sunday’s protest is part of a larger national movement this month to call attention to the problem of unjust deportations, but also to spotlight individual cases of immigrants facing deportation, as well as those who have recently been expelled. Activists have declared March “National Coming Out of the Shadows Month.” Throughout March, protests are being scheduled across the country that will shine a light on the actual human impact of a national immigration policy that often serves to break up families that have lived together in this country for many years. Immigrant rights activists argue that the impact on U.S. communities, including authorized U.S. residents, when members are deported is too often overlooked by the general public.
Local activist Raúl Alcaraz Ochoa, the organizer of Sunday’s rally recently shone a light on one individual case when he stood up for local resident René Meza Huerta, after he was taken into custody by Tucson police under suspicion of being undocumented. In a bold act of civil disobedience, Alcaraz Ochoa laid down underneath a Border Patrol vehicle, risking his own safety to protect the man. Alcaraz was himself arrested during the incident, and although he was later released pending an ongoing investigation, Meza Huerta was deported to Mexico, for now separated from his family still here in the United States.
Nobody was arrested during the march on Sunday, although police did attempt to block part of the route with patrol cars. This is the second demonstration for immigrant rights and comprehensive immigration reform that has taken place in front of the Tucson Police headquarters this month.