Around 40 rallyists took to the streets on Ash Wednesday to protest United States immigration policy. At noon, the group of protestors stopped in front of the John Weld Peck Federal Building along Main Street to voice their grievances.
Protest leader Mother Paula Jackson addressed the marchers and connected the intent of the rally with the significant of Ash Wednesday, the day marking the start of Lent and the preparation for Easter in Western Christianity. Jackson, a pastor of the Episcopal Church of Our Savior, spoke of how people could receive ashes on behalf of others, and how they could receive ashes on behalf of the immigrant community. About half a dozen marchers then stepped forward to receive the mark of a black cross—made from the ashes of burnt palm branches—on their foreheads.
Paul Breidenbach, a Hispanic tenant advocate for the fair-housing agency Housing Opportunities Made Equal and one of the protesters who received ashes on his forehead, said he frequently works with the Guatemalan community, one of many countries in Central America to bear the brunt of US policy, leading to the formation of gangs. As a result, Breidenbach pointed out, people are fleeing to the United States, and now the government is sending them back to the violence they helped to create in the first place.
Opposition to Latest Immigration Removal Priority
Protest organizers are opposing the latest decision of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to prioritize the removal of women with children and unaccompanied minors who arrived in the country since 2014 to find refuge from the gang violence in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
ICE agents were spotted last week at an apartment complex in East Price Hill, which has a high concentration of Central American immigrants. The ICE has yet to comment on the reason for their visits to the area, but immigration activists believe their purpose was to serve arrest warrants to a number of women.
It’s estimated that around 100,000 families, composed mainly of women and children, have crossed the United States and Mexico border since 2014. Although many have been arrested, they have also been allowed to move in with their families in the United States, while hundreds of women with children, as well as children without guardians are currently living in the Greater Cincinnati area.
Election Season Stirring Up Immigration Rhetoric
With election season in full swing, US immigration rhetoric has also been at its most contentious. GOP presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Donald Trump advocate the widespread removal of immigrants from Mexico and Central America, with Trump suggesting the construction of a wall along the border to keep out undocumented immigrants.
As expected, the protesters experienced some tension from the public, with one passerby yelling “Trump for president.”
Learn more about the latest ICE removal priority policy by getting in touch with us at Lyttle Law Firm today. Learn about your rights by calling our offices at 512-215-5225 or by visiting our website.