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37 arrested as civil disobedience grows-Caribbean Life

Thirty-seven New Yorkers were arrested in front of 26 Federal Plaza in lower Manhattan on Monday,may 24, in a second round of civil disobedience intended to escalate pressure on President Obama and Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform in 2010.

The civil disobedience involved local clergy, labor, elected, and community leaders linking arms to form a chain that temporarily blocked traffic in front of the federal building.It was the high point of a rally attended by 100 New Yorkers demanding immediate action on immigration reform.Speakers also urged the Obama administration to intervene to stop Arizona’s draconian SB1070 law and to place a moratorium on deportations.

U.S. Representative Yvette Clarke of Brooklyn made a special appearance at the rally before returning to Washington, and she recommitted herself to fighting for comprehensive immigration reform in Congress.Two elected officials were arrested today:Assemblymember Adriano Espaillat and City Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito.

The protest was the latest in a growing wave of immigration-related civil disobedience sweeping across the nation, following recent actions in Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles, New York, Tucson, Detroit, San Francisco, and Seattle.One week ago, 16 New Yorkers, including City Councilmembers Ydanis Rodriguez and Jumaane D. Williams, were arrested for civil disobedience in a similar action outside Manhattan’s federal building.The third and final New York action is planned for next Tuesday.

The New York actions are spearheaded by Churches United to Save and Heal (CUSH) in partnership with the New York Immigration Coalition, SEIU 32BJ, SEIU 1199, New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC, The Black Institute, New York Communities for Change, Families for Freedom, and many others.Participants said their actions carry on the great tradition of peaceful non-violent resistance in the face of grave injustice, as practiced by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

The recent civil disobedience actions mark an escalation in tactics by reform advocates nationwide.They follow a March 21 rally in the nation’s capital that drew over 200,000, and May 1 rallies that turned out hundreds of thousands across the nation.Despite these massive showings, leaders in Washington still have failed to produce reform legislation, prolonging the moral and humanitarian crisis facing our nation over its broken immigration system.

Participants released the following joint statement concerning today’s civil disobedience action:

“Being conscientiously of opinion that our current immigration laws betray our core principles of democracy, inclusiveness and justice; that they allow for Arizona’s immoral and unconstitutional SB1070; and that their continued enforcement through detention and deportation separates families and destroys communities; we are compelled to escalate our call for Comprehensive Immigration Reform in the face of inaction from our nation’s elected representatives.

“Today we stand in solidarity with the millions who contribute to our communities and economy while being denied full access to them.Our act of civil disobedience is performed with the belief that our laws can—and should—be better, and that our nation’s leaders cannot stand on the sidelines as our society’s core values are betrayed by a broken and immoral immigration system.

“We invite the enforcement of the law upon ourselves in the hope that our arrest today will be the catalyst for principled leadership from the president and Congress and for meaningful Comprehensive Immigration Reform that will put an end to the arrests and other mistreatments faced by our friends, families, congregations, and communities.”