WASHINGTON, D.C. — Thousands of immigration activists rallied in 62 cities across the United States on Saturday to pressure President Barack Obama to stop the deportation of undocumented immigrants. Some deportation monitors and activists have marked April 5th as the day that the Obama administration likely reached its two millionth deportation.
In the nation’s capitol, hundreds of activists gathered in a park in the predominantly immigrant neighborhood of Mt. Pleasant before marching two miles south to the White House. As they marched, advocates shouted “two million, too many,” “up up with education, down, down with deportation,” “not one more,” and carried pictures of immigrants who have been deported. Several also carried signs with Obama’s face on them that read, “Deporter In Chief.”
Cesar Magallon, a 24-year-old undocumented immigrant, told ThinkProgress that he had attended the rally because, “deportation is always in the back of my mind … As a queer man, I’m afraid that if I go back to [Mexico], I will be murdered. That has happened in the past [to others]. This administration has supposedly stopped deporting ‘low-priority’ people, but we know that we see in our community every day, trans and queer men and women are still being deported.”
Frederico F. told ThinkProgress that he brought his young son to the rally because they wanted to “tell President Obama to stop deportations that tear families apart. It’s really important for my family to be together.”
Here are 15 of the best pictures from Saturday’s rally in Washington, D.C.:
According to the “Not One More” campaign, which is the main organizer of the nationwide event, activists have three requests for the President: First, stop the deportations of immigrants who have not committed serious offenses and are not national security threats; second, end Secure Communities — a federal program that grants local and state officials the ability to hold suspected undocumented immigrants before turning them over to federal immigration officials for possible deportation; and third, expand the presidential initiative known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — which provides two years of deportation relief and work authorization for undocumented immigrants.
In the most significant sign that the White House has been listening to these activists, the President said last month that he already asked the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to find a way to approach deportations more “humanely.” The President has otherwise insisted that he cannot unilaterally stop all deportations because doing so would violate federal law. The executive branch has the power to decide who it deports and how frequently it uses its power through what is known as “prosecutorial discretion,” but stopping all deportations would test that power in unprecedented ways. The only permanent solution to the massive deportations that would survive beyond this presidency is an act of Congress.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has said that any broad executive action to slow down deportations could “damage — perhaps beyond repair — our ability to build the trust necessary to enact real immigration reform.” Yet, House Republicans have focused considerable energy on derailing a permanent solution, most recently by declining to pursue procedural efforts to get reform passed, either by forcing a vote on through something known as a “discharge petition,” or adding the bill as a “previous question” to a national monuments bill. Republicans have also voted against adding immigration reform as an amendment to the 2015 fiscal year Republican budget plan.