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Alicia Camacho, associate master of Ezra Stiles College and Ethnicity, Race and Migration professor, was arrested Tuesday afternoon in front of the White House for participating in planned civil disobedience, protesting the Obama administration’s recent escalation of deportations of Central American refugee families.
Organized by a coalition of immigration reform groups, the demonstration sought to bring attention to the 83 asylum seekers who died in their home countries after they were deported by the Department of Homeland Security. Camacho, who is currently on sabbatical, was arrested alongside 13 other immigration activists, including Fair Immigration Reform Movement spokesperson Kica Matos, Ana Maria Rivera-Forastieri of the Fair Haven-based group Junta for Progressive Action, and former MEChA moderator Evelyn Nuñez ’15. The demonstrators were arrested for refusing to keep their protest in motion. They sat down in front of the White House fence with a banner reading: “President Obama: You Have Blood On Your Hands.”
One hundred twenty-one migrants have already been deported, with the target population consisting of an estimated 100,000 people across the country. Most of these are women and children who fled intensifying violence and poverty in Central America since January 2014.
“As people of conscience, we have a responsibility to hold our government accountable for the needless loss of life and terror arising from misdirected deportation policies,” Camacho said in an interview Monday night in anticipation of the demonstration. “The Central American refugees who have been denied protection are not strangers or lawbreakers … they build our communities as they work beside us, send their kids to school, and worship with us.”
CT Students for a Dream organizer Eric Cruz, who was also arrested, said the protesters will only receive a ticket and a fine, though they will go to jail. Camacho said she expects to be back on campus by Wednesday.
Oscar Garcia-Ruiz and Laura Plata contributed reporting.
This article has been published in conjunction with DOWN Magazine.