15 People Arrested in Immigration Protests in Austin

AUSTIN -- Fifteen people were arrested in Austin Wednesday during a protest against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's threat to sue the federal government over a program that shields from deportation unauthorized immigrants who came to the country as children.The group of about 40 protesters, organized by a national immigrant rights group called Cosecha, decried Paxton's June letter to the Trump administration asking it to rescind the Deferred Action Against Childhood Arrivals program - commonly known as DACA - or face a lawsuit over its legality. The 15 people arrested during the protest sat in the middle of an intersection directly to the north of the Texas Capitol and blocked traffic for about 15 minutes. They chanted and laid out posters that read "Permanent protection. Dignity and Respect."Four of the arrested protesters were DACA recipients. The program gives immigrants who came to the country illegally as children a two-year relief from deportation and a work permit. Around 800,000 people have received its benefits since its implementation in 2012. Strict immigration enforcement advocates have decried it as a mini "amnesty."Under the heightened immigration enforcement of the Trump administration, the four recipients of the program could face a revocation of its benefits for the arrest."We know there’s a lot of fear and anxiety in our communities. However, we know that we cannot put our faith and hopes in politician," said Reyna Montoya, one of the organizers of the protest. "We have seen that victories have [only] been won when communities have put everything at risk."Responding to the protest, Paxton wrote in a prepared statement: "We're fortunate to live in a great country where the First Amendment matters and people have the right to express their opinions freely and hold peaceful protests. It's my sworn duty to defend the Constitution and enforce the laws passed by the Texas Legislature."Cosecha is an immigrant rights groups with operations in 20 states. Protesters at Wednesday's included people who lived in El Paso and Austin, but also came from as far as Arizona and Florida. "We want to send a message to the American public that we are tired of how we are treated in this country," said Jose Luis Santiago, a 21-year-old recipient of the deportation relief program, who immigrated from Mexico as a child.Protesters also railed against Texas' recently passed 'sanctuary cities' ban."We’re here in Austin because of all the pain that politicians in this city are giving our immigrant community," said Maria Fernanda Cabello, one of the protest organizers. "We have SB 4, that's going to come into effect September 1 that's going to affect all immigrants in the state, not because of your legal status but because of the color of your skin." Organizers said the protesters were transferred to Travis County Jail, where officials only turn over unauthorized immigrants to federal immigration authorities if they have violent charges like murder, aggravated sexual assault and kidnapping. The Travis County Sheriff's Office, which operates the jail, was one of Gov. Greg Abbott's main targets during his campaign to pass the sanctuary cities ban. As of early afternoon, authorities had not released additional information about the arrests or charges against the protesters.   Continue reading...

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