A hundred people rallied against Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids at ICE headquarters in downtown Seattle on Sept. 12. This was part of a chain of protests happening all over the country. The demonstration protested “Operation Mega,” the latest attack by ICE. People also rallied for DACA (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program).
Rally speakers explained that Operation Mega is part of ICE’s deportation plan and reign of terror against immigrant workers and families. After the theft of DACA, the Detention Watch Network went public with information leaked from the Department of Homeland Security. The network says a number of people in ICE shared information on the Mega operation with immigrant rights advocates. Operation Mega plans to round up more than 8,000 people for deportation from Sept. 16 to 21.
The Seattle rally was called by the NW Detention Center Resistance. The demonstration delivered a Freedom of Information Act request to ICE. The FOIA request is for information about the detailed plans for Operation Mega, along with any potential future plans to institute mass immigration raids. The rally’s demand to ICE was “Show Your Papers,” which was printed on a banner. But ICE refused to meet with demonstrators and blocked their entry at the door.
Immigrant rights and community groups represented at the rally included Casa Latina, El Centro De La Raza and BAYAN-USA. Maru Mora Villapondo, coordinator of NW Detention Center Resistance, said that ICE claimed that they cancelled the raids after the immigrant groups released their information. “But we can’t trust them,” she said. “We are using our constitutional right to assemble and show we are not afraid.”
Also speaking at the rally was immigrant rights lawyer Jorge Baron. He announced the formation of the Immigrant Solidarity Network, which will provide legal aid and “serve and strengthen communities across the state.” Their 24-hour hotline to report active raids and ICE activity is 1-844-RAID-REP.
The NW Detention Center Resistance held another rally on Sept. 16 at the detention center (penitentiary) on the Tacoma, Wash., tideflats. Behind a banner reading “End Immigrant Detention,” activists marched up and down in front of the for-profit, GeoCorp-operated prison where prisoner fightback is continuous. A group of prisoners had just ended the sixth group hunger strike of the year. A group of Cuban hunger strikers had been demanding release and protesting family separation.
Villapondo repeated the demands placed on ICE at the Seattle rally. She exposed that there had just been a prisoner hunger strike which made gains at Norcor, a new immigration detention jail in Oregon. She talked about the importance of opposing the ICE budget, while not supporting the two parties of big business. “You don’t represent us because you don’t understand us,” she said. In addition to petitioning against the prison, letter writing to the prisoners and upcoming activities were also stressed.