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Updated Oct 14, 2013 - 4:52 pm

Crowd gathers in Phoenix to protest deportations

PHOENIX — Protesting immigration activists danced and chanted Monday
outside a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Phoenix, calling on
President Barack Obama to end all deportations.

While organizers aimed to stop deportations for at least the day, the ICE
office where protesters gathered was closed for Columbus Day.

Adelina Nicholls of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights and about a
dozen others traveled from the Atlanta area for the event.

“We want to send a message to President Obama to stop deportations,” Nicholls
said as music blared in the background and people danced on the sidewalk.
“There’s been enough suffering already. We need to reunite families.”

Immigration reform had been a key topic in Congress until the partial federal
government shutdown started Oct. 1, which has largely stalled talks on anything
else but getting a budget hammered out and averting a government default looming
Thursday.

The Phoenix protest drew about 250 people and comes on the heels of several
other protests nationwide.

More than 40 students, immigrant activists and their parents spent the night
outside the Broward Transitional Center north of Miami Sunday as part of a
series of actions around the country, waving signs and chanting into the early
morning hours Monday.

In Central Florida, more activists and a coalition of clergy from various
religious organizations were set to end a 150-mile walk in Tampa Monday night
with a vigil led by the Dioceses of St. Petersburg.

In California, about 2,000 supporters of immigration reform marched through
Hollywood Saturday, pushing for congressional action. Rallies also took place
this weekend in New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, New Mexico and Boston.

Earlier this month, House Democrats unveiled an immigration bill proposing an
extended path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants illegally
present in the U.S., along with heightened border security, but hopes waned of
any action taking place by year’s end as the budget stalemate dragged on.

In Phoenix, protesters chanted “no more deportations” and “shut down ICE”
as they swarmed the parking lot of the closed ICE building. Phoenix police lined
the road, keeping people off the streets and monitoring for any actions that
would merit arrests. None had taken place by late afternoon.

“We’re tired of the policies that are deporting our communities,” said one of
the event organizers, Marisa Franco of the National Day Laborer Organizing
Network. “We think it’s illogical and unjust that while Congress is debating
reform, the people who could benefit from that reform are being deported.”

ICE officials did not respond to requests for comment because of the partial
government shutdown and the holiday.

___

AP writer Laura Wides-Munoz contributed to this report from Miami.

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