While immigration reform legislation has stalled in the U.S. House for a year, immigrant rights advocates hosted a mock trial in downtown Chicago Friday morning and found President Barack Obama “guilty” of “needless deportations.”
“My partner Wilson Gomez-Pu has been detained for 10 months on a 13-year-old order of deportation,” Josefa Gonzalez said, with translation services provided by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR).
Gomez-Pu, who has not been convicted of any violent crimes, was detained last August, said Gonzalez. He is the primary provider for their two children, ages seven and 11.
“My children and I need him home. These needless deportations are destroying our families, and our communities,” she said.
Friday marked the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Senate’s passage of bipartisan legislation that would provide a streamlined path to citizenship for America’s more than 11 million undocumented immigrants. In October, House Democrats introduced a nearly identical bill. But Republican House leaders, who previously rebuffed the Senate’s bill, have not acted on either piece of legislation.
Calling on Obama to end deportations, Gonzalez was one of roughly 50 people to rally Friday morning outside of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) headquarters building, at 101 W. Congress Pkwy., in the Loop.
“Our families can not wait any longer, we need the president to act now,” said Lawrence Benito, CEO of ICIRR.
Protesters conducted a mock trial during the demonstration, and found Obama “guilty of separating families, deporting more than 2 million people and denying [immigrants] humanity.”
“There is clear executive authority for you, Mr. President, to stop deportations,” said ICIRR's Policy Director Fred Tsao. “The president can issue deferred action, he can parole people in place, he can also issue deferred enforced departure.”
If deportation rates continue at their current pace, some 2 million people will have been deported by 2014 under the Obama administration, according to the activists.
“Mr. President, you can stop these deportations. You can pick up your pen,” Tsao said.
Here's for more from the mock trial and rally:
On March 6, Obama said that until Congress passes immigration reform legislation, his hands are tied.
“I am the champion-in-chief of comprehensive immigration reform,” Obama said during the town hall meeting with Telemundo, Univision and La Opinion-impreMedia. “What I’ve said in the past remains true: Until Congress passes a new law I am constrained in what I can do.”
Later that same month, Obama called on the Department of Homeland Security to reevaluate its deportation practices "to see how it can conduct enforcement more humanely within the confines of the law."
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D, IL-4), a champion in Congress for fixing the nation’s broken immigration system, said on Wednesday that immigration reform is dead for the year.
“[We need to] hold the House GOP and President Obama accountable for their refusal to stop separating families,” Benito said.