Traffic was temporarily halted at an intersection in downtown Atlanta on Monday as activists took to the streets to protest the Supreme Court's recent split decision on immigration which effectively ended President Obama's deportation relief programs for some undocumented immigrants, and to demand that Obama put a stop to his remaining deportation policies.
An estimated 50 protesters marched toward Atlanta's Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office. Some waved banners. Others reportedly chanted "Si se puede" and "Not one more!" According to local news station WSB-TV, a number of activists chained themselves to ladders upon arriving at Ted Turner Drive, near the ICE offices. 4 activists were reportedly arrested.
In March, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the Atlanta ICE office— which also covers the whole of Georgia, as well as the Carolinas—is responsible for more arrests during recent immigration sweeps than any other field office in the nation.
President Obama has been slammed by immigration rights activists for having dramatically expanded federal deportations of people in the United States without documentation. While his deferred action programs have helped remove the threat of deportation for some undocumented immigrants, the Supreme Court's recent decision ensured that—Donald Trump's heated rhetoric aside—the debate over immigration will remain a top-tier issue in this coming election.
Monday's protests were organized by Not1More, a coalition of activist groups including the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, Atlanta Jobs with Justice, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. In a statement put out by the group, protest participant and Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights member Carlos Medina explained:
We are defending the security and stability of our families, sending a direct message to the Obama Administration. We know that he has the ability to stop deportations at any given time. Our fight will not stop. The only thing that we will stop is the sinister machine that is the deportation machine created by this administration.
A similar rally also shut down traffic in Hartford, CT, after protesters unfurled a street-spanning banner calling for an end to mass deportations.
Speaking after the Supreme Court's decision to uphold a lower court's ruling against his deferred action programs, President Obama expressed frustration at the lack of legislative progress to address this country's growing immigration challenges.
"Leaving the broken system the way it is, that’s not a solution,” the President said at the time. “Sooner or later, immigration reform will get done. Congress is not going to be able to ignore America forever."