17 arrested in South Florida as pro-immigrant protests pick up steam
Last Wednesday, seventeen protestors were arrested in Miramar, Florida after they blocked the intersection at Southwest 29th Street and 145th Avenue for about eight hours. Wednesday’s demonstrations came two days after seven protestors were arrested after blocking the entrance to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office in Miramar.
Local protestors have come every Wednesday for the past year to protest the abuses of the Miramar ICE facility. This weekly demonstration has come to be known as the “Circle of Protection” because protestors assist families who have been separated from each other.
“Every day from all across the state, families come to stand here and endure the harsh Florida heat, and are denied access to basic human rights, like using a bathroom or drinking water or feeding their children,” one protester told the local ABC affiliate.
Protest organizers also brought food and water to protestors.
“The GEO Group, which is a for-profit prison corporation, works together with ICE to destroy black and brown lives every day. We have to put a stop to that. We have to take action,” protester Christian Minaya said.
The GEO Group is a for-profit prison corporation. It released a statement to Local 10 News regarding their local relationship with the Miramar ICE facility and the protests reading, “(The protesters’) actions are misguided and based on a mischaracterization of our role as a long-standing service provider to the federal government, and totally ignore the fact that we have absolutely no role in setting immigration policy nor have we ever advocated for or against immigration enforcement or detention policies.”
Many community members have demanded the divestment of prison corporations which benefit from the detainment of people. Earlier this week, local activist groups in South Florida filed a lawsuit against a neighboring county, Miami-Dade. Florida Immigrant Coalition and We Count!, among others, held a press conference as reported by the Miami New Times.
“Miami-Dade County has taken it upon themselves to hand over immigrants with ICE detainers, including many first-time offenders,” the Florida Immigrant Coalition’s executive director, Maria Rodriguez, said in the press release. “These people are being held for longer, are often unable to post bond or be reunited with their families. It doesn’t matter how minor the offense is. Littering, loitering or driving without a license is all it takes to get deported. Regardless of what they are charged with, the County has a duty to respect their constitutional rights.”