Seven illegal immigrants chained themselves to the White House fence Wednesday to demand President Obama halt all deportations, saying he has a moral obligation to keep families together.
“Stop deportations—not one more,” onlookers chanted as police moved in to remove the activists, who aired a live web videocast of their arrest.
A day earlier, Mr. Obama had rejected their calls, telling Telemundo, a Spanish-language network, that halting more deportations is “not an option.”
Immigrant-rights activists said 1,200 immigrants are deported every day. The seven who chained themselves to the White House fence along Pennsylvania Avenue include three from Arizona, two from Atlanta, one from New Orleans and one from New York.
Their move creates a conundrum for Mr. Obama and the Secret Service, who will have to decide whether to put the seven activists into deportation proceedings now.
“When he said he didn’t have the power to stop deporting DREAMers, we built a powerful case with grassroots pressure and legal analysis and won a monumental victory with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” said Cristina Jimenez, Managing Director of United We Dream. “He does have the power to stop deportations and we will keep challenging him.”
Deportations have been a tricky issue for Mr. Obama all around.
He has set records for deportations, removing about 400,000 people a year from the country, in order to be able to argue to conservatives that he is serious about enforcing immigration laws.
But he says he has tried to focus those deportation efforts on criminals and repeat-immigration violators, leaving most rank-and-file illegal immigrants in little danger of being deported.