INDIO, Calif. - A group of protesters rallied outside the Border Patrol office in Indio calling for an end to deportations and urging President Obama to move forward with his plans for immigration reform. "It's really useless and pointless to talk about immigration reform and the people that are going to benefit from that immigration reform are being taken away from the country," said Fernando Romero, from the Justice for Immigrants Coalition.
Protesters held signs saying "no deportations," the primary concern of activists all over the country. The National Day Laborer Organizing Network submitted a 41-page rule-making petition to the Department of Homeland Security that argues President Obama has the legal authority and moral imperative to stop deporting otherwise law-abiding immigrants who entered the country illegally. The group that organized the event, Comite Latino says a recent increase in raids by local Border Patrol continues to rip families apart. "We always advocate for family unity and unfortunately agents like the border patrol have no respect for the kind of families we want in this area," said Romero.
Another sign read "respect my rights." Something the group says border patrol has not done. Rosie Rubio works a security guard at a gated community in Mecca. She says agents hassled guards, even handcuffing one last to week, to get in and look for undocumented immigrants. "You don't go around harassing your own kind, your own American citizens, you help us, we help you!" said Rubio.
The Border Patrol public affairs office did not respond to our questions about these claims. But, Reverend Suzanne Marsh says they did take a meeting with her about their intentions. "Their only purpose really was the interdiction of terrorists and drug traffickers and that was their focus," said Marsh.
Things Marsh says don't come close to describing most of the undocumented in our community. She hopes protests like this get the attention of Capitol Hill and specifically says this to President Obama. "Do something for them, it's time," said Marsh. "This is what our country is about."
Comite Latino says they hope to get the attention of the president when he comes to visit the valley next Friday. The group is planning another protest.