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A protest led by immigration-reform activists ended in arrests on Monday as religious leaders, immigrants, and supporters gathered in front of the White House to call for change in deportation policies that they believe are inhumane and immoral.
“People are deported in the middle of the night to Northern Mexico in places that we know that the U.S. government has currently advised their personnel shouldn’t be around on the streets at night,” said protestor Shaina Aber, an employee of the Jesuits of the United States. “This is not in line with our humanitarian values either as a nation”.
Rev. Noel Anderson with the United Church of Christ was among those arrested, and stated that his objective was to force President Obama and Congress to pass legislation to end these deportations.
“It’s a system that deports people and breaks up families,” added Brother Brian McLaughlin of Divine Work Missionaries. “To have that broken family doesn’t benefit anyone.”
The Democratic-controlled Senate passed immigration-reform last year that would grant legal status -- and provide a path to citizenship -- to millions of undocumented immigrants. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives, however, has yet to move forward with any legislation.
Still, immigration-reform advocates believe President Obama can take executive action to curtail these deportations.
“We know that President Obama has that in his power, executive action, to go ahead and defer action for all undocumented people, similar to the deferred action for childhood arrivals,” Rev. Anderson said. “We will continue our pressure on legislation and we believe that all movement from the faith community and the immigrant rights community calling for a stop in deportation will cause both the House and President Obama to do the right thing.”