Feathered Bastard

ICE Shuts Down Phoenix ICE Office Before Protesters Arrive, Demonstrators Chain Themselves Together at Entrance to Eloy Detention Center

Ahead of pro-immigrant demonstrators set to march at noon from Phoenix's Margaret T. Hance Park to the Phoenix Field Office for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE has closed its facility, which remains the target of a "Shut Down ICE" protest, demanding an end to deportations.

A letter posted to the entrance of the ICE building states that it will be closed from October 11 through October 14 and asks visitors to come back on the 15th or the 16th.

Today is Columbus Day, a federal holiday. When I stopped by this morning, there were no cars in the ICE parking lot, and there seemed to be nothing going on at the facility.

Meanwhile, according to the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, which is supporting these protests, demonstrators have chained themselves together at an entrance to the Eloy Detention Center in Eloy, Arizona.

The Eloy facility is operated by the private prison giant Corrections Corporation of America and houses ICE detainees. NDLON is livestreaming the protest, as it did with the action on Friday in Tucson.

There, demonstrators blocked two buses filled with migrants headed for a hearing in Operation Streamline, a federal program in which recently detained migrants plead guilty to misdemeanors of illegal entry in groups of 70 or more.

A statement from NDLON announcing today's actions called on President Obama "to stop deportations and the criminalization of immigrants," and said that demonstrators in Eloy are using civil disobedience as a way of "exposing the inhumane imprisonment at the center of current immigration policy and the needless warehousing of the undocumented who could benefit from reform."

NDLON's press release and website note that in March the Eloy facility was the site of two prisoner suicides, and that the prison operates under a "bed mandate" where the federal government essentially must keep the facility stocked with inmates, even as illegal immigration into the U.S. from Mexico slows relative to years past.

The demonstrations Friday and today are part of the NDLON campaign NotOneMoreDeportation.com, which decries the Obama administration's closing in on a record 2 million deportations since President Obama took office. The local human rights group Puente is also part of this campaign.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons