WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 20 people — including seven youths — were arrested outside the U.S. Capitol Wednesday as they blocked an intersection to call for an end to deportations.
Chanting protesters wore red and white shirts with the slogan “Stop Separating Families.” They locked arms and sat down in the street in the rain before Capitol Police rounded them up and loaded them in vans.
Eleven-year-old Jorge Servin was the youngest arrested, according to the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), which helped organize the event.
Jorge said he was protesting because “I don’t want more kids to have to grow up without the love of their parents.”
FIRM released a video in which a 13-year-old from Arizona, identified only as Brian, asked a simple question: “Wouldn’t you want the best for your family?”
Elias Gonzalez, 15, said he was protesting because his father was deported to Mexico eight years ago, forcing young Elias to step into a caretaker role with his younger siblings.
“I lost my childhood,” Elias said. “But I’m protesting not just for me but so that deportations don’t continue separating other families.”
Activists are keeping up a drumbeat of protests around the Capitol, on the National Mall and outside the White House to pressure President Barack Obama and Congress over record-high deportations by the Obama administration.
Earlier this week, immigration and labor activists held banners outside the White House and asked for an end for deportations and more support for working families. More immigration-related protests around the country are expected on May Day.
In early April, immigration rights advocates rallied in 50 cities, asking that federal lawmakers and Obama take policy action.
With comprehensive immigration reform stalled in the GOP-led House, Obama recently announced his administration would conduct a review on how to make deportations more humane. Results are expected in coming weeks. U.S. Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson is reportedly considering limiting the number of deportations.
Many immigrant families, though, say that deportations take place daily and the weeks and months of lawmakers studying what to do is no solution to the immediate prospect of being separated from a loved one.
Equal Voice News contributed to this report.