— NDLON (@ndlon) December 16, 2013
FAIRFAX, Va. (CBSDC/AP) — Nine people were arrested during a protest outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in northern Virginia on Monday morning, authorities say.
The nine were among a group of about 60 protesters who formed a human chain Monday outside the ICE building in Fairfax County. County police told the group they had a right to protest but would be arrested if they blocked the road.
Carolina Velez with the Richmond-based Wayside Center for Popular Education tells The Associated Press that the protesters lay across the roadway to protest an increase in deportations to nearly 400,000 annually since President Barack Obama took power in 2009.
The protesters linked arms using sections of PVC pipe in an effort to stop buses from leaving the detention center with deportees.
Police from Fairfax County and Federal Protective Services used saws to cut through the chains that locked the group of protesters together for nearly three hours.
The activists chanted in both English and Spanish during the protest, including “Until we stop, deportations we shall not be moved” and “Not one more deportation.”
Listen to the protesters’ chants:
— DreamActivist D.C. (@DreamActivistDC) December 16, 2013
The group said their protest was a call to action for President Barack Obama to stop deportations that will occur while lawmakers are on break.
“The House might have closed for the year but ICE will be deporting families on Christmas unless we stop it,” said protester Rosa Lozano of D.C. “Blaming Republicans can’t stop the suffering in immigrant communities. But the president can. With the stroke of a pen he could end his deportation quota and expand relief like he did for dreamers.”
After being released, Ilse Escobar said Obama should halt deportations.
“I’m very tired and angry because every single day my family and members of my community are at risk of being deported for simple things like jaywalking or driving without a license and not for posing a threat to anyone,” Escobar said. “That’s why we have to stop this.”
The nine activists were charged with obstructing use of entrances to a federal building and refusing to leave when ordered and released, according to the Federal Protective Service. They must appear at the federal courthouse in Alexandria in February.
More than 500 organizations and 29 Democrat members of Congress asked Obama this month to stop deporting immigrants who would benefit by the immigration bill passed by the Senate in June.
GOP House leaders have rejected the Senate bill, vowing instead to proceed with bills addressing individual immigration issues, beginning with border security.
The House finished last week its work for this year, without having voted on immigration reform.
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