Immigrant rights activists said Friday they shut down a court in Tucson, Ariz., preventing authorities from processing illegal immigrants who were to be sentenced to jail and eventually deported.
The activists had chained themselves to bus tires and to the court entrance early Friday morning and had been there for three and a half hours just after noon local time.
They said they'd been told the court canceled its proceedings for the day as a result of their protest.
The illegal immigrants on the buses were being held under Operation Streamline, which is designed to give illegal immigrants jail sentences before they are deported, as a deterrent to keep them from trying to reenter the country in the future. The activists, though, say the program circumvents due process rights.
"Anyone who witnesses Operation Streamline will come away convinced that it is both unconstitutional and immoral," said activist Roberto Cintli Rodriguez. "There is no justice in that courtroom. It violates every principle the U.S. claims to ascribe to. When humanity is confronted with unjust laws, it is our responsibility to challenge them."
Friday's move was a precursor to next week, when the activists plan to try to shut down the Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Phoenix.
"Under the president's administration, nearly two million families have been torn apart through detention and deportation," said Marisa Franco of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. "Our communities can no longer wait for the president to rediscover his moral compass or for Congress to actually do its job. We will do what any mother or father would do and keep our families together by preventing ICE from being able to tear them apart."
On Friday, the activists posted live video of their protest online, showing some marching with signs in the middle of the road that read "End Streamline."
Others were lying down next to the bus tires to try to make sure the vehicles couldn't move.
In another video, activists had blockaded the entrance to the court where the illegal immigrants were supposed to be processed. The activists had linked arms inside of tubes, which makes it more difficult for authorities to separate them and remove them.
One of those shooting the video said there were 70 people on the buses, and they were showing their shackles through the windows.
"Today, for the first time in six years, we've seen Streamline be stopped," said one man on the video feed.
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