Children of immigration detainees protest outside federal buildingPosted: Updated:
YAKIMA, Wash- Backlash continues from last week's ICE raids that put 30 people behind bars for immigration violations. Dozens of students from Ellensburg set up in front of the federal building in Yakima Tuesday afternoon. They were protesting the immigration raid that put some of their family members behind bars.
At about 11am the students walked out of their classrooms, and made the 45 minute drive to the federal building where their mothers, father, brothers, and sisters appeared in court for immigration violations.
Both of seventeen-year-old Ricardo Gonzalez' parents were taken. He and his younger brother are living with his nineteen-year-old brother. "It's really hard for him because he just graduated from high school", says Gonzalez.
Ricardo says he's been going to school to take his mind off of what's happening, but he finds it hard to focus. "This week we have finals and I felt stressed because I don't have time to do my homework" Gonzalez laments. "It don't know, it's too much, it's too much".
After Thursday's raids in Ellensburg 13 people were charged with criminal offenses ranging from with visa and government ID fraud, to re-entering the country after deportation. 16 more are accused of the administrative violation of being in the country illegally.
Job Avila is the regional director for the United Farm Workers of America and organized the protest. "It's real heartbreaking what's been going on out there. People want answers and it's been difficult for people to track family members who are in detention", says Avila.
According to him, many kids who's parents were taken are afraid to come forward for fear of being taken by social services. Ricardo's father is already awaiting deportation. His mother is scheduled to appear in Yakima federal court tomorrow. "We were really attached to my mom. It's like hard because the house is lonely now that she left", says Ricardo.
The protesters criticized President Obama for not addressing the immigration issue. During Tuesday night's state of the union address, the president said he was committed to immigration reform but did not give any details on his plans.