‘Immigration reform can’t move forward until Obama takes action’
Following a collective civil disobedience to call for an end to deportations, 130 immigrants were arrested during the rally. Nine immigrants and clergy from New Sanctuary Movement (NSM) of Philadelphia were among those detained and later held at the Anacostia Detention Center in Washington D.C.
According to New Sanctuary Movement organizer Nicole Kligerman, around 112 people were arrested during the protest organized by faith-based organizations, but were all released on Thursday evening.
“I felt really humbled by the strength of the immigrants that got arrested and were willing to fight for their community members,”, Kligerman said “It is very powerful and pushes me to continue working for this cause.”
“After a year of record deportations, Congress’s failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform and a border refugee crisis of unprecedented proportions, immigrant and allies demanded that President Obama immediately end all deportations and extend the Deferred Action program to all immigrants,” the organization stated in a media release.
The Philly contingent included immigrants and four pastors from Philadelphia-area churches, including Arch St United Methodist Church, West Kensington Ministry, and Central Baptist Church of Wayne.
Among the arrested were NSM director Peter Pedemonti, Honduran pastor Adan Mairena, who serves at West Kensington Ministry, and pastor Marcus Pomeroy, who serves at Central Baptist Church of Wayne.
Community leader Carmen Guerrero of Norristown, an immigrant from Mexico who has worked with the community for the past 15 years was also detained. “Injustices should not be permitted anywhere in the world. As a citizen of the world, it's my moral obligation to make my voice heard and act,” Guerrero said.
Blanca Pacheco, an immigrant from Ecuador and a community organizer at NSM who was also arrested said she felt a great responsibility to advocate for herself and her community. “As a mother, I have an obligation to teach my children, who are the next generation, about unconditional love. We all have the right to work, dream, grow, and breathe freely in whatever part of the world without being drowned in words of hate,” Pacheco said.
In April 2014, the City of Philadelphia became a leader in the national immigrant rights movement with an executive order ending all ICE holds.
“Local government has done its part, but immigration reform cannot move forward until President Obama takes action,” NSM added.