Immigration activists call on Obama to stop deportations


Mizrain Belman stood in the rain outside the Austin Music Hall Friday hoping that President Barack Obama would hear him.

“He has 314 days left in office to do something for the immigrant community,” said Belman, an undocumented immigrant and a senior at David Crockett High.

Belman and his brother had a two-minute meeting with Obama in 2014 after they shouted for the president to stop deportations at the Paramount Theater. On Friday, the 17-year-old tried to reach Obama again as nearly three dozen immigration activists carrying signs that read messages like “Stop police and ICE collaboration” rallied outside the Austin Music Hall in downtown, where the president was scheduled to attend a Democratic National Committee fundraiser Friday afternoon.

The group called on Obama to cease deportations and put an end to the 287(g) federal program, which allows local law enforcement officials to act as de facto deputized immigration officials and perform some of their functions.

Earlier on Friday, the Secret Service and Austin police had surrounded the building on Neches and Third streets as dozens of attendees waited in a line that stretched for almost two blocks.

About 3:30 p.m. the group of mostly UT students walked down Neches Street until they were stopped by authorities just a block away from the Austin Music Hall.

Demonstrators initially stayed at the intersection of Neches and Fourth streets, but were allowed in front of the building minutes before Obama arrived.

As the presidential motorcade arrived downtown, amid a crowd of neighbors and visitors trying to get a glimpse of the president, the protesters raised their voices and chanted slogans.

Like other teenagers his age, Belman dreams about going to college or getting a job. But as an immigrant, the uncertainty of what could happen to him or his family is always in the back of his mind. In 2011, his father was stopped by a police officer for driving without a seat belt and was nearly deported.

“I still live in fear that he can be detained and deported because there’s no safe space,” he said.


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