At least 12 demonstrators have been arrested after shutting down operations at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Columbus, Ohio.
Protestors obstructed the ICE offices in response to the federal agency conducting a series of raids across the state in recent weeks. Earth First!, the environmental group which organised the demonstration along with the American Indian Movement of Ohio, described US immigration policies as a “miscarriage of justice” in a statement to The Independent.
"This family separation crisis, along with refusing asylum to victims of violence and US economic policy, on top of the hundreds of thousands of deported people from the Obama, Trump, and previous administrations, amounts to a massive humanitarian crisis and a miscarriage of justice," said Madeleine Ffitch, a member of Earth First!.
"These communities are suffering from the actions of the same international players that the eco-defence movement is working to shut down. We’re here to show a united front with those struggling for migration justice."
The ICE facility where demonstrators held their protest on Monday morning, typically processes undocumented immigrants and conducts "check ins" with migrants throughout the week.
Those meetings can sometimes lead to deportations, as many immigrants remain unsure about their status or legal rights while undergoing immigration proceedings.
Demonstrators raised a sign onto the 47-floor LeVeque Tower which read “ICE ruins lives here,” and held other signs outside of the building calling for the abolition of the 15-year-old agency.
Protestors then filled the hallways of the floor where ICE’s offices are located, and attempted to blockade the front entrance.
Rallies and demonstrations against Donald Trump’s hard-line immigration policies have erupted nationwide in recent weeks, after the White House’s “zero tolerance” policy began the systematic separation of migrant families at the US-Mexico border.
Thousands of children remain separated from their families, despite Mr Trump signing an executive order in June calling for an end to his separation policy. It remains unclear whether the government will be able to reunite families by a Tuesday deadline mandated by a federal court.
Just last week, immigrant activist Therese Patricia Okoumou scaled the Statue of Liberty to protest Mr Trump’s immigration policies, demanding the reunification of migrant families impacted by the president’s policies.
Delfin Bautista, the director of the Ohio University LGBTQ Centre, said tackling immigration issues was a complex issue, as there were many different levels - mistreatment of transgender detainees in ICE custody by both ICE officers and other detainees, the impact of the Muslim ban and hate crimes towards the Muslim community, and concern with workers’ rights and migrant workers. He said:
“There are multiple challenges and complexities, but there are many opportunities for coalition and solidarity across movements in support of immigration reform.”
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