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AFL-CIO Now

DREAMers and Immigrant Rights Activists Rally Outside the White House to Protest Deportations

Photo by Ana Avendaño, AFL-CIO

With accordion-led protest tunes in the midafternoon air, a group of DREAMers, older aspiring citizens and allies gathered outside the White House today to call on President Obama to end the separation of families caused by deportation.

“Children suffer the most from [family] separation,” says Abraham Aguilar in Spanish, who traveled from south Florida for the protest. “I ask for President Obama’s support and that he keeps his promises. We want fairness. We come to this country to work, not to steal.”

Some 100 people from states as far away as Arizona and Louisiana sang, clapped, danced, prayed and listened to personal stories like Aguilar’s—painful stories of family separation, raids and detention centers.

Martha, a Mexican immigrant, spent four months in south central Arizona’s Eloy Detention Center after a raid by the forces of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, she says.

“We were fed the most dreadful food, stuff that not even dogs would eat,” she told the attentive crowd around her. “I lived and came out with infections in a woman’s most intimate body parts because of the dirty clothes we wore. But I’m in this fight with all of you now. I fight for my sisters who are still detained.”

Among the organizations represented there were the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), Puente Arizona, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights and the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice.

A related “Freedom from Deportation” concert will take place today from 6 to 9 p.m. EDT at Washington, D.C.’s Freedom Plaza.

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