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Az immigration groups call for end to deportations & shut down of ICE detention sites

Lucia Fierros wants the privately-owned immigration detention centers where her brothers were detained in 2018 to shut down. 

“We demand more humanity,” Fierros said in Spanish. “We demand that no more families be deported.”

Fierros, 48, is a Tempe resident and spoke outside the field offices of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in central Phoenix on Thursday. The gathering, organized by the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, Poder Latinx, Arizona Jews for Justice and United We Dream, was part of a national day of action where immigration advocacy groups called for an end to deportations and for all immigration detention centers to be closed. 

The rallies come as condemnation for the treatment of Haitian migrants along the Texas border mounted after videos and photos circulated in the news of U.S. Border Patrol agents riding horses against adults and children taking food and supplies to a makeshift refugee camp in the small border community of Del Rio. The Biden Administration ramped up deportations to Haiti, a country whose president was recently assassinated and where deadly earthquakes have compounded the political and humanitarian crisis. 

Federal agents continue to use a highly criticized Title 42 authority first implemented last year under former President Donald Trump to use emergency public health powers to expel people at its land borders. The policy weakens U.S. and international law meant to safeguard asylum processes, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said. Last week, a federal judge blocked the government from using Title 42, but President Joe Biden’s Department of Homeland Security is appealing the ruling

At the Phoenix rally on Thursday, Josue Andonaegui, state director for Poder Latinx, said that even though Biden campaigned promising to provide a more humane approach to migration, in practice things haven’t been too different from his predecessor. 

“We thought that with the new administration things will get better, but things are not going that way,” Andonaegui said. “The reality is we still see our families being separated. We can’t wait until more people die.” 

He demanded that all ICE detention centers and holding facilities, including the office building where the Arizona operations of ICE are headquartered that towered behind him, shut down. 

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Andonaegui also led a short remembrance dedicated to Roxsana Hernandez and Johana Medina, two Central American transgender women who died in ICE custody in 2018 and 2019. 

“We’ll keep fighting so no other person has to go through what you went through,” Andanaegui said in Spanish.

On Thursday afternoon, Puente Human Rights Movement held another rally outside of the ICE field offices. The group also is calling out “Biden’s inaction on ICE’s deadly and inhumane detention system, ongoing systemic abuses in CBP and ICE” and demanding a “permanent end to immigration detention and a pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented migrants.”

During the rally, some people played drums. Others led chants through a megaphone in English and Spanish, including “Down with CBP” and “The people united can never be divided!” Many held signs that read, “End Detentions” “Free Them All” and “Keep Our Families Together.”

This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.

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Laura Gómez/Arizona Mirror

Maricruz Ramírez, an undocumented immigrant mother and community leader, speaks at a rally on Sept. 24, 2021, calling for a stop to deportations and the shutdown of immigration detention centers.