Phoenix ICE Building Turns Into Party Zone for Protesters
They came, they saw, they protested, they partied.
I'm talking about the local pro-immigrant activists who have been promising for at least a few weeks now to "shut down" the Phoenix Field Office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Monday, October 14.
Though Monday was Columbus Day, a federal holiday, the ICE building on Central Avenue just north of McDowell Road is a detention facility, and as such, never closes completely, according to one former ICE agent I know.
A massive puppet, with arms outstretched, blocks the ICE building...
(Note: The local spokeswoman for ICE has been furloughed due to the government shutdown. No other spokesperson for ICE could be reached Monday.)
Certainly, the ICE building appeared vacant. Its entrance bore a letter informing the public that the office would be closed from October 11 to October 14, and reopen for business Tuesday, October 15.
As a result, the 300 or so demonstrators from organizations such as the Phoenix human rights group Puente and the California-based National Day Laborer Organizing Network, declared victory following a short afternoon march from Margaret T. Hance Park further south on Central.
To celebrate, they held an impromptu fiesta in front of the ICE structure, with a DJ, dancing, and food.
The entrance to the Phoenix field office of ICE, papered over with activists' posters...
Banners and signs decrying President Obama's deportation policies hung from ICE's gates. A giant female puppet, her arms outstretched, seemed to symbolically halt ICE in its tracks.
There was a significant police presence. And a handful of hillbilly haters from the roughneck anti-immigrant group Remember 1986 held a counter-demonstration across the street.
Nevertheless, the mood remained celebratory and festive.
"No one's going to be deported from this building today," Puente organizer Carlos Garcia told me. "Even on Christmas, New Year's, any of the federal holidays, people are still processed through this building and deported. So for today at least, we stopped deportations in the city of Phoenix."
Demonstrators dance at Monday's anti-ICE protest...
Garcia was arrested Friday in Tucson during an action wherein some 20 people stopped two buses of migrants and blocked an entrance to the federal courthouse, briefly halting Operation Streamline, a controversial federal program that prosecutes scores of migrants at a time during mass trials in Tucson and other Southwestern cities.