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New Yorkers Conduct “Die-In,” Call on President Obama for Immediate End to ICE Raids

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Thanu Yakupitiyage,  Main Phone: 212-627-2227 x235,  E-mail: tyaku@thenyic.org
New York  (Tuesday, February 23, 2016)

New Yorkers Conduct “Die-In,” Call on President Obama for Immediate End to ICE Raids

 On National Day of Action against Immigration Raids, Dozens of Immigrants and Advocates Hold Tombstones Representing Deportees Murdered in Home Countries, Demands the White House to Stop Deportations 

(New York, NY) While freezing rain poured down in New York City today, dozens of advocates, faith leaders, and affected immigrants laid on the pavement outside Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at 26 Federal Plaza in protest of immigration raids that have wreaked fear and panic in communities across the country. Holding flowers and cut outs of tombstones to represent 83 deportees who were murdered after their deportations to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, the participants of the “die-in” brought attention to the human cost of deporting refugees back to their home countries where they face violence and even death.

 
[Photos Above] Dozens of New Yorkers lay on the pavement in front of 26 Federal Plaza to protest immigration raids and to call attention to the murders of 83 refugees who were deported to their home countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. 

Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition said, “Today is a National Day of Action against Immigration Raids and we join our partners and allies standing in front of the White House and in front of detention facilities, immigration courts, and ICE offices across the country who have one simple message for President Obama: stop these senseless immigration raids. Mass deportation of individuals fleeing violence is not a viable solution and we are disappointed that the Obama administration once again has taken this enforcement-heavy approach in 2016. We demand that President Obama and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson reverse course and cease this unacceptable practice immediately.”

In late December, news spread that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would apprehend and deport people who crossed the southern border after May 1, 2014, causing anxiety and fear among immigrants throughout the United States. On January 2, 2016, at least 121 individuals, mostly mothers and children, were detained and by January 8th almost half of them deported. While the recent ICE raids of Central Americans has not yet impacted New York State, ICE operations has been ramping up enforcement of priorities that have led to the detention of community members in New York.

Today’s action started with an interfaith prayer conducted by New York City’s diverse faith leaders. Imam Souleimane Konaté, one of four faith leaders representing Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Catholic faiths said, "It is immoral to deport vulnerable families, women and children back to the countries where they face violence and even death. Leaders from the interfaith community condemn the ICE Raids."

 
[Photo Left] Imam Souleimane Konate gives a prayer in honor of the 83 refugees who were murdered after their deportations. [Photo right] Brother Anthony Zuba of Capuchin Franciscan Friars prays before the "die-in." 

Participating in the “die-in” were members of the New York Immigration Coalition, affected immigrants, and faith leaders to draw attention to the “deportation crisis.”

"The ICE raids has had a chilling effect on all immigrant communities throughout New York City," said Aracelis Lucero, Executive Director of Masa. "In the Mexican community, families are paralyzed by fear. This is why we are here today to call attention to these raids and to tell President Obama to end them now. Our communities are more than statistics and "deportation priorities" - they are people, with families and lives that are being threatened by our government's inability to fix our broken immigration system."

 
[Photo Left] Aracelis Lucero, executive director of MASA, moderates the press conference before the "die in" at 26 Federal Plaza. [Photo right] Dennisse, an affected immirant with Cabrini Immigrant Services, speaks about the fear in communities because of recent immigration raids.

Dennisse, a DACA recipient with Cabrini Immigrant Services of NYC said, “The fear of deportation has always followed me and my family, but in the last month this fear has become greater, preventing us from having a normal life. Now, simply opening the door to a stranger – or anyone – has become a reason to be alert. The United States describes itself as a country that is inclusive and that provides the American Dream, however these recent raids are proving exactly the opposite. We demand that President Obama end the ICE raids immediately and provide Central American refugees with temporary protected status.”

Victoria Daza, an organizer with the Long Island DREAM Coalition said, "Since the beginning of the New Year, the announcement of nationwide ICE raids has struck fear into several communities living on Long Island. As of 2014, many children and families have left the life threatening conditions in their countries and made home on Long Island, the unfortunate timing of their migration makes them deportation priorities. ICE's regional office in New York has stated that they are not targeting families, however this is simply not what the experience of many of the parents, children, and students we work with demonstrates. We stand in solidarity with all efforts across New York to stop ICE raids from devastating our communities."

"Today we are here to mourn the fact that 83 Central American refugees have already lost their lives, and that more may be deported to their deaths because of the ICE raids,” said Jung Rae Jang, community member with MinKwon Center for Community Action. “It is deeply un-American to turn away refugees. The Asian American community stands in solidarity with our Latino brothers and sisters to call on the President to end this unjust policy."


[Photo Above]  Jung Rae Jang, a DACA recipient and member of MinKwon Center for Community Action stands in solidarity with Central American refugees.


[Photo Above] Victoria Daza, an organizer with LI Jobs for Justice and LI DREAM Coalition speaks about the fear in Long Island's immigrant communities because of immigration raids. 

"I am shocked that our great country that is built on freedom and immigration would conduct such despicable raids,” said Fr. James Shaheen of the Archdiocese of New York, Catholic Campus Ministry. “There are too many connections to Gestapo tactics to justify such aggressive abuses. As a Catholic priest of 36 years, we cannot welcome Pope Francis with open arms and treat political refugees as non - humans without basic rights."

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The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees. The NYIC aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all by promoting immigrants’ full civic participation, fostering their leadership, and providing a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.

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