ICE policy protest leads to six arrests


by TINA SHIVELY / KVUE News and Photojournalist KENNETH NULL

Bio | Email | Follow: @TinaS_KVUE

Posted on February 3, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 3 at 12:40 PM

TRAVIS COUNTY -- Six people are under arrest after they blocked the exit of the Travis County Jail during a protest.

The demonstrators were calling for Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton to put an end to a controversial immigration policy.

Chants like "Not one more!" and "We want justice!" rang outside the Travis County Justice Center Monday morning. Dozens of people were there rallying against a policy called Secure Communities, or S-Comm. The protesters say it actually destroys communities.

Police arrested the six people outside the exit used to transfer detained undocumented immigrants to a federal building where they are held for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sector of the Homeland Security Department.

The protesters linked themselves together using PVC pipe and sat down, blocking the exit. After about 30 minutes of singing and chanting, Austin police officers and Travis County deputies lifted the protesters off the ground and took them inside the same exit to be detained themselves.

The protesters are members of the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition, and they say many undocumented immigrants are being deported for minor crimes. They want Sheriff Greg Hamilton to revisit the policy and "stop dividing families."

"This is causing a crisis within our immigrant community. Nineteen families are being separated every single week since 2009. And we want to make sure that we put an end to this because we feel that Secure Communities actually does the opposite, and it causes not only a crisis, but a mistrust between immigrant community and law enforcement," Executive Director of the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition Alejandro Caceres said.

Caceres added that cities including Los Angeles, Chicago and New Orleans have already rejected S-Comm.

Charges for the six people arrested may include criminal trespassing, impeding public passageway, and disorderly conduct.

KVUE is waiting for a statement from Sheriff Hamilton.