- The Washington Times - Friday, April 30, 2021

A group of illegal immigrants and other immigrant-rights activists are rallying Friday morning near the White House demanding more speed and broader actions from President Biden, saying he hasn’t met his promises to their community.

Mr. Biden’s retreat this week on his goal of getting legislation to legalize the entire illegal immigrant population has angered many activists, and some of them said they are prepared to risk arrest Friday to make their point.

“We deserve better,” said Gema Lowe, one of the activists who said she would have gained legal status under a broad amnesty, but is not eligible under the more narrow legislation Mr. Biden backed this week in his address to Congress.

Friday’s rally, which was billed as “nonviolent direct action against Joe Biden and the Democratic Party,” came just hours after Mr. Biden’s rally in Georgia to mark 100 days of his administration was interrupted by a protester shouting “End Detention Now!”

That has long been a slogan for immigration activists who want to see Homeland Security’s detention operations shut down and all illegal immigrants released from physical custody.

“I agree with you,” Mr. Biden said after the interruption. “I’m working on it, man. Give me another five days.”

He said he thought the man was talking about privately run detention centers, and “we are working to close all of them.”

The Obama administration, where Mr. Biden served as vice president, did issue an order to stop using private prisons for the Justice Department, and considered such a policy at Homeland Security, but in the end backed away.

Officials said they concluded there was no way U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement could hold the detainee population given the small number of facilities ICE actually runs itself.

Friday’s immigration march near the White House signals the discontent with Mr. Biden goes beyond ICE operations, particularly after his speech to Congress.

The president told lawmakers he would still like to see them pass his broad amnesty covering all illegal immigrants, but said he recognized that might not be realistic, and said they should then focus on smaller bills that would legalize illegal immigrants currently here doing agriculture work, as well as “Dreamers” — illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children — and those here under Temporary Protected Status, a special deportation amnesty for people whose home countries have faced tough times.

Combined, those bills would offer citizenship rights to about three 3.3 million people, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

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