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Immigration protesters block main roadway near downtown Phoenix

(Twitter Photo/@ClineKathleen)

PHOENIX — Advocates took to the streets of Phoenix on Thursday after the Supreme Court blocked President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration.

But Obama’s action wasn’t the only thing blocked: The protesters blocked a portion of Central Avenue near Indian School Road outside of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

Protesters were chanting an array of phrases in both English and Spanish, including calling for the shutdown of ICE and demanding justice.

Some banded their arms together and formed a human chain across the street, chanting “not one more.”

News helicopter footage showed some of the people getting close to the light rail tracks, though trains continued to run.

Four protesters, including two who chained themselves to ladders in the middle of the street, were arrested.

Police eventually moved the protesters out of the street, but it remained blocked by officers and squad cars.

Phoenix police spokesman J. R. Holmes said authorities wanted to protect protesters’ free speech rights but also ensure road safety. He said another concern was making sure everyone was properly hydrated.

Eduardo Sainz, of Mi Familia Vota, said the news that the high court was deadlocked brought tears to his eyes but that he will continue to fight for immigrant rights. Sainz was one of at least 60 demonstrators.

“This is a demonstration to show our community members that they’re not alone and to also show our elected officials that we will hold them accountable. And that we will explore all the different scenarios that we have to do in order to move our agenda forward,” Sainz said.

Stephanie Maldonado, 23, came to the protest because she wanted to stand in solidarity for the families impacted by the decision.

“Our community already has a sense of hopelessness, so we lose some hope with this,” she said.

Her mother, who came to the U.S. illegally 26 years ago, returned to Mexico four years ago in part because of a waning sense of hope, she said. But Maldonado said this isn’t the end for families waiting for immigration reform.

“It’s a bump in the road, but it’s not the end,” she said. “We’re going to keep fighting across the nation, not just here in Phoenix.”

The protesters were angered by a 4-4 Supreme Court decision that blocked Obama’s immigration plan that sought to shield millions living in the U.S. illegally from deportation, effectively killing the plan for the rest of his presidency.

People who would have benefited from Obama’s plan face no imminent threat of deportation because Congress has provided money to deal with only a small percentage of people who live in the country illegally, and the president retains ample discretion to decide whom to deport. But Obama’s effort to expand that protection to many others is effectively stymied.

Obama said Thursday’s impasse “takes us further from the country we aspire to be.”

The 4-4 tie vote sets no national precedent but leaves in place the ruling by the lower court. The justices issued a one-sentence opinion, with no further comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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