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Protesters chain themselves to stop deportations in Arizona

- The Washington Times - Monday, October 14, 2013

Immigrant-rights protesters have chained themselves in front of an detention facility in Eloy, Ariz., and planned to blockade the main federal immigration office in Phoenix later Monday, hoping to stop anyone from being deported.

The moves are the latest act of civil disobedience from activists who are demanding the Obama administration halt all deportations. Among the protesters were illegal immigrants.

"Undocumented — unafraid," the protesters chanted as they blocked the road at the facility Monday morning, which is southeast of Phoenix and is one of the busiest detention locations in the country.

The protesters aired their action in a webcast.

While activists have demanded action from Republicans in Congress, they are increasingly critical of President Obama over his record of deportations. Under his watch, immigration authorities have set records by deporting about 400,000 immigrants a year.

One of the protesters, 16-year-old Sandy Estrada, said in a statement that she was demonstrating on behalf of her brother, who has been detained in Eloy for nearly a year.

"I'm doing this to show my brother and all the other people inside that we support them, and we will do what it takes to get them out," she said.

On Friday, protesters in Tucson halted Operation Streamline, a program that convicts illegal immigrants and gives them jail time before deporting them, hoping it will be a deterrent to trying to cross illegally.

The activists argue that those being held and deported have often committed no major crimes and should qualify for Mr. Obama's non-deportation policies. Under those policies, the federal government has said it wants to focus its efforts on immigrants major criminal records or repeat-immigration law violators.

Arizona, with its strict immigration laws, has been a focus of the activists' ire.

The Eloy facility is privately owned and has a contract with the government to hold immigrants awaiting deportation.

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