WASHINGTON (WDVM) — A group rallied in LaFayette Square in front of the White House on Thursday, September 23, demanding President Biden make changes to the immigration system.
The crowd could be heard chanting “El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido,” which translates to “the people united will never be defeated.” This chant and others rang out as the crowd urged for campaign promises to be kept. Setareh Ghandehari, with the Detention Watch Network, explained, “His campaign promises included to bring justice and fairness to the immigration system and to end for-profit detention.”
Thursday’s protest was not the first this week. As event organizer Isaias Guerrero explained, “We’ve been pushing all this week, not only for citizenship for 11 million people, but also an end to deportations of our people.”
Multiple community action groups put the protest together, and immigrants spoke and shared their personal stories from the immigration system. One immigrant, Daniel Tse, said while the narrative is often that people come to America for a better life, what they truly want is life itself. He explained, “Running away from government oppression, gang oppression. We seek for a chance to live.”
Ghandehari explained that one major concern is the conditions that many immigrants end up in once they arrive in America. She said they are sometimes the same as what they are running away from. She said, “The conditions inside immigration detention are inhumane. They are abusive. From inadequate water to moldy and rotten food, to medical abuse and negligence, to physical, verbal, and sexual assault; these are all regular occurrences in every detention center across the country.” Further, Ghandehari said the number of people in immigration jails nearly doubled in the first six months of Biden’s term.
“President Biden was elected by immigrant communities: people who expected him to do better and keep his promises about racial justice and immigration justice, so we need to go to (the U.S. Capitol, the White House, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Headquarters) so they know we’re still here and expect him to do better and do more.”
Though Secret Service moved the protest, that was permitted to be there, as it began, the rally continued and organizers plan to host more in the future.
Organizers encourage the community to reach out to local representatives and join groups like CASA if they are interested in joining the fight for immigration reform.