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Supporters of immigration rights activist Maru Mora-Villalpando and others from the Northwest Detention Center Resistance group hold a rally outside her second deportation hearing at the Seattle Immigration Court on June 26 in Seattle. Karen Ducey/Getty Images
Supporters of immigration rights activist Maru Mora-Villalpando and others from the Northwest Detention Center Resistance group hold a rally outside her second deportation hearing at the Seattle Immigration Court on June 26. Karen Ducey/Getty Images

Occupy ICE: When the country decides to take matters into its own hands

Several centers of protest have been spreading throughout the nation with a single slogan: abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

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When political representatives seem incapable of uncrossing their arms, civil disobedience is almost a duty.

This is what the American people seem to have understood after the Trump administration imposed one of its most aggressive anti-immigration policies so far: separating families on the border and imprisoning children away from their parents.

In a spirit very similar to that of seven years ago - when the whole country took to the streets to protest against systematic tax evasions and corporate power - this time a large part of the population has decided to storm the vicinity of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency offices in cities like San Francisco, Philadelphia, Portland, New York, Louisville, and Kentucky.

The initiative arose in Portland, Oregon, almost a month ago when the first camp arose spontaneously under the slogan "Occupy ICE."

Vigils and signs have characterized what many call "civil disobedience" instigated by progressive activists and some Democrats who "are calling for the abolition of the federal agency carrying out the Trump administration’s xenophobic agenda and widely condemned deportation machinery,” explained The Guardian.

Similarly, this phenomenon has followed the massive protests carried out in the country in recent weeks against the government's "zero tolerance" policy, an immediate consequence of which has been the separation of more than 2,300 undocumented immigrant children from their families.

While the government claims to be doing everything possible to reunite these children with their parents, both Congress and other political representatives remain stuck in a bipartisan debate that has been increasingly interwoven thanks to the speed with which the White House launches its policies.

In Philadelphia, for example, hundreds of people who had been "under extreme heat and thunderstorms" for four days created a “tent city” between umbrellas and awnings, decorated with banners that say "No cages" and "ICE get out," as The Inquirer reported.

What has caught the attention of many has been the active participation of left-wing political groups such as Philly Socialists, Reclaim Philadelphia and the chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) group in the city, something that has been happening as well throughout all manifestations.

Apparently, the recent victory of DSA candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the Bronx has fueled a wave of optimism within the socialist ranks of the Democratic caucus who, after having been main protagonists in the protests of Occupy Wall Street seven years ago, have now joined multiple demonstrations like the one that was held against Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a Mexican restaurant in June, The Guardian continued.

Although the demonstrations have been spontaneous, there has been planning that has allowed participants to prepare for clashes with the police, collect supplies, and even raise funds to pay bail in cases of raids or arrests by law enforcement.

In the same vein, many demonstrators have assured the media that the funds and community participation intends to "offer legal aid and resources to undocumented immigrants,” as has happened in the New York camp.

This week, 30 people were arrested in Philadelphia and a police raid has dismantled the provisional camp, according to local police statements. But at the national level, the protest insists on keeping it peaceful, and ICE spokesmen have told media like the Huffington Post that "the agency fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion without interference," also assuring that "the officials would continue to monitor and make the necessary modifications to ensure operations resume appropriately."

For their part, the demonstrators have guaranteed that they will not move until a project is structured to replace the immigration agency and its “inhumane and unnecessary system of oppression".

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