They sat on the street and refused to leave – until dozens of police officers took them away.
San Francisco police detained about 20 people at a protest Friday in the downtown area where more than 100 others had gathered. Their message? A demand to the end of deportations under the Obama Administration.
Carlos Martinez, a 25-year-old student at the City College of San Francisco, is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. He was one of the 20 who was cited and released.
“I’m willing to get arrested because of the unjust immigration laws,” he said before police took him away. “Almost 1,100 people are deported every single day and that’s ridiculous.”
Sitting across from him in the protest circle at the intersection of Sutter and Montgomery was Mike Rothbaum, a rabbi from Oakland.
“We stand here with immigrant people anywhere who’ve been despised and harassed,” Rothbaum said.
Bill Hing, a University of San Francisco law professor, said the protests are happening now because estimates are that the number of people deported under the Obama Administration will hit 2 million this month.
Hing added that many immigration reform advocates have all but given up on Congress voting on the issue before the campaigns for the mid-term elections go into full swing.
“There’s a school of thought if Congress doesn’t do anything this Spring, there will be no immigration reform. There’s a lot of pressure on Speaker Boehner that democrats are putting on him,” Hing explained. “People don’t believe that vote is going to take place so some people have given up on reform. They hope the Obama administration will simply refrain from deporting so many people.”
In the past, the president has said the other side of the aisle isn’t fulfilling its end of the bargain on the issue of immigration reform and that the deportations under his administration are targeting criminals.
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted 133,551 removals of undocumented immigrants in the United States -- 82-percent of them had been convicted of a crime before.
DHS data further showed that 48 percent of that group had committed Level 1 crimes, which are aggravated felonies.
But immigration reform advocates countered those numbers are misleading with many more innocent people taken away from their families everyday. DHS numbers show that between 2010 and 2012, the most recent data available, more than 200,000 parents with U.S. born children were deported.
A woman who wanted to remain anonymous because she is undocumented said the pain stays with her everyday.
“My entire family is in Korea, so not being able to see them, I’ve had my grandparents pass away," she said. "Next time I go to Korea, I’ll be visiting their graves. It’s not fair.”
Putri Siti, a 20-year-old student at UC Berkeley, said she is also undocumented. Her family moved to California from Indonesia when she was eleven years old. The molecular biology major said she’s facing deportation this November.
“Deportation is real, it doesn’t only affect the Latino and Hispanic community it also affects the Asian community,” Siti said. “That’s why we’re having this rally today with people getting arrested, getting themselves into trouble. This is our community, it has been hurting and it’s not just one community. It’s everyone’s community.”