Four people were arrested in Center City Tuesday afternoon during a protest of the Supreme Court decision blocking the Obama admnistration’s attempt to shield millions of immigrants from deportation.
The demonstration began outside the Philadelphia headquarters of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement at 16th and Callowhill streets. About 50 people gathered to call for the “dismantling of ICE” and a moratorium on deportations.
The group then marched several blocks to Broad Street where four people sat down in the exit ramp off the Vine Street Expressway, linking their arms with thick plastic tubing wrapped in duct tape.
One of them was 13-year-old boy whose mother, Maria Hernandez, would have qualified for a program granting work permits to undocumented immigrants with citizen children.
That program — known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans or DAPA — is in legal limbo after last week’s high court decision.
Through a translator, Hernandez said her son took action because of the discrimination he and his family face at school, on the street and at work.
The demonstration blocked the exit ramp for more than an hour, frustrating drivers including Jim King, a lawyer from Philadelphia who was running late for court.
“I just think that people in general should come in legally … but this is not what I’m thrilled about right now,” said King. “There’s no reason for somebody to be sitting in the middle of the street and ruining everybody else’s day. I don’t think it gets them anywhere, to be honest with you.”
Around 12:30 p.m., police arrested the four people blocking the road, including the 13-year-old boy, a college student, an undocumented mother and a minister. Officers used a grinder to remove the plastic tubing linking the protesters’ arms before placing them under arrest. The scene was loud, as supporters chanted, but those arrested were peaceful and cooperated with police.
Asked why he was willing to be arrested, the Rev. Adan Mairena said it was his “moral obligation as a Christian and a pastor.”
“There are 4 million people in this country that are suffering a lot worse because of this political climate right now that’s one about division and not unity,” Mairena said. “This does not represent who we are as a country.”
Erika Almiron with the advocacy group Juntos organized the rally. Last week, immigrant families reacted to the Supreme Court decision with anger and sadness.
Now, Almiron said, they’re sending a message.
“This community isn’t fearful,” she said. “If anything, it’s valiant and it has courage and it will keep on fighting for justice.”