Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, March 31, 2020
Immigration activists stepped up their campaign to force ICE to release migrants amid the coronavirus crisis, taking to the streets in California in a drive-by protest Tuesday demanding the governor issue an emergency shutdown order for federal detention facilities in the state.
In Washington, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said it wants to see “thousands” of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally being held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement be released — and said for good measure migrants being processed at the border should be immediately released as well.
While there may be some exceptions for the most dangerous illegal immigrants, most of the tens of thousands currently being held should be freed, the caucus’s leaders said.
“Ideally you would get everybody out of those confined spaces where they’re sitting ducks for this virus,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro, the Texas Democrat who is chairman of the caucus.
In California, activists from a number of Jewish groups teamed up with immigrant rights advocates to urge state leaders to force ICE’s hand. They called for Gov. Gavin Newsom and local authorities to claim emergency powers to impose a release.
“We know that Anne Frank didn’t die in the gas chambers, but rather she died of a communicable disease in the crowded and dirty conditions of a detention center,” says Sam Tunick with Never Again Action Bay Area. “We don’t want to see history repeated — we are doing what we wish bystanders during the Holocaust had done for our ancestors.”
The groups staged their protest Tuesday by driving cars by ICE facilities in Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as the state Capitol in Sacramento.
They said they were defying Mr. Newsom’s shelter-in-place orders by staging the protest, which included cars decked out with anti-Trump and anti-ICE posters, and chants of “Hey hey, ho ho, racist ICE has got to go.”
Amnesty International USA and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service are taking another approach, calling for people to send letters, poems and artwork to migrants being held in detention to boost their spirits.