–Chicago High School Students Turn Up the Heat on the President
Over 1000 students walked out from 11 high schools formed a “Family Human Chain” and filled the street across from City Hall in Chicago today, demanding that the President use his discretionary power to stop the deportations and separation of families. Shouting “We are not Dreaming Anymore, We Are Wide Awake and Ready to Fight” the high spirited, determined and often angry young Latinos heard from their own leaders, families facing separation and leaders from Familia Latina Unida and La Fuerze Juventud.
Over thirty young people, joined by a group of Pastors laid down on the street and stopped the noontime Loop traffic for about 30 minutes, leading to a series of confrontations with the Chicago Police who seemed unprepared for the determination of the crowd.
“This was the beginning of the escalation Chicago and other cities can expect if the President does not do what is in his power to do to keep his promise,” said Fuerza Juventud leader Miriam Perez. “Almost every one of these young people has a family member or close friend who has been deported as part of the 1100 people the Obama administration is deporting every day.” Speaker after speaker made it clear that the President would face thousands of demonstrators every time he comes to Chicago, where he has established his campaign headquarters, if he continues with the unprecedented number of deportations. “We are the generation which has grown up with this nightmare and we will not just sit by and accept the attack on our community.”
The revitalized movement comes in response to Congressman Gutierrez’s 30 city national campaign to get President Obama to use his legal discretionary powers to grant relief to the Parents of 4 million U.S. citizen and over one million dream act eligible children. Obama has responded with a series of meetings with Latino celebraties and opinion makers in an effort to convince them that his hands are tied by the Republican Congress. The President’s claim has been undermined by a memorandum from the Department of Homeland Security, leaked earlier this year, which clearly spells out his discretionary powers. The President is scheduled to meet with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus tomorrow to respond to their unified demand to take immediate administrative action to stop the deportations and separation of families where there is no criminal history.
“For two years, when he had a democratic majority on Congress, the President stalled. Now he is refusing to grant the small relief that it is in his power to grant. Our families are suffering. Our whole community is suffering,” said Familia Latina Unida President Emma Lozano. “His advisors are telling him that the Latino community has no alternative to Obama because the Republicans are worse, but he is wrong. This is not a political issue, it is much deeper, much more fundamental. We can turn up the heat on the street and we can boycott the Presidential vote. We are absolutely serious.”
The Spirited rally called on the Chicago City Council to use its Home Rule Authority to make a Utah styled work permit available to undocumented residents of the city. Speakers also called for the city to continue its status as a sanctuary city and to refuse cooperation with the Federal Secure Communites and 287g program.
“There is something different going on here,” said one long time movement observer. “The civil disobedience was not staged – it was spontaneous and the spirit of the crowd clearly caught the police off guard. This was not a few college students, this was the youth of the barrio – and they were informed, intelligent and angry.”