WASHINGTON – As President Barack Obama spoke to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute gala Thursday night,about 100 protesters stood outside the Walter E.Washington Convention Center chanting for a halt in deportations.
Shouts of “Si,se puede” – yes,we can – and “Ni una más deportación” – not one more deportation – echoed through the crowd as they marched down the street.
The protest happened one day after a Department of Homeland Security report showed more than 438,000 people were deported from the U.S. in 2013.
Zenen Jaimes,23,of Washington,works for Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement,an advocacy group for gay and transgendered undocumented immigrants. Although Jaimes is a U.S. citizen,he said he’s personally affected by U.S. immigration law because his parents are undocumented immigrants.
He said he remembers Obama’s promises about immigration reform when he was first elected,and he said feels as if not enough has happened since then.
“As a young person who supported him,he broke his promise to me,” Jaimes said. “As a voting person,I’m going to make sure the Democrats feel that.”
Participants carried banners and raised colorful signs reading “President Obama: Deporter-in-Chief” and “DACA for all” – a reference to a program introduced by the Obama administration in 2012 that defers deportation actions for some undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
Salvador Sarmiento,the director of legislative affairs for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network,said many of the protesters have family members who have been deported or are in deportation proceedings.
“We had a lot of people here that sent the message in a very clear way,” he said.
He also referred to Blanca Hernandez,an activist who interrupted Obama’s speech during the gala and was escorted out.
“There was somebody inside that was actually willing to step up and interrupt the president,” he said. “That’s what you need to do sometimes and really stand up and speak out when people’s civil rights and human dignity is being violated.”
Reach reporter Ayana Stewart at [email protected] or 202-408-1493. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.