At Philly ICE headquarters, protesters say immigrants are used as leverage for reforms

Cherri Gregg
June 24, 2019 - 4:14 pm
About 200 people protested Monday outside of the Philadelphia ICE office on North Eighth Street. The rally was against what immigrant rights advocates see as an attempt to use the threat of raids as leverage to push lawmakers to pass reforms.

Cherri Gregg/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — About 200 people protested Monday outside of the Philadelphia ICE office on North Eighth Street. The rally was against what immigrant rights advocates see as an attempt to use the threat of raids as leverage to push lawmakers to pass reforms. 

"When our communities are under attack, we fight back," said Blanca Pachecko, an organizer with the New Sanctuary Movement.

Local immigrant rights advocates began organizing last week after the Trump administration announced ICE would raid 10 cities. Although Philadelphia was not on the list, many undocumented immigrants fear deportation and went underground, said Miguel Andrandre of Juntos. 

So most of the protesters in Monday's rally were U.S. citizens. 

"We received a lot of calls and texts from community members saying they were afraid something like this would happen," Andrandre said. 

Trump has since postponed the raids for two weeks to give lawmakers a chance to reach a compromise on immigration reform. 

"If he's going to continue to use immigration as a political weapon, I don't think many will believe that's the way to go," said Sen. Bob Casey.

Casey said the president has yet to step forward with a plan on immigration reform. 

Congressman Dwight Evans, who represents parts of Philadelphia, said he's given lawmakers little time to complete a complicated task.

"The point of setting these arbitrary deadlines is ridiculous," Evans said. 

Meanwhile, protesters did laps around ICE headquarters to shine the light on the plight of immigrants in federal detention centers, calling them a precursor to concentration camps and ensuring that no center opens in Philadelphia, said Andrandre.

"As a sanctuary or sanctuary city, there is no place for any form of detention or a detention center in our city," he said.

CAIR, Power, Road to Pa. and other groups say they will continue to mobilize and push local governments to protect immigrant communities. 

Sen. Pat Toomey said in a statement that “Congress must stop talking past one another and find a solution that enforces the law and keeps families together while their immigration cases are being resolved. Legislation like the bill offered by Senator Cruz is a good starting point. It ensures that migrant families can stay together and seeks to streamline the processing of asylum claims."