Immigrant rights activists arrested after entering L.A. federal building
At least six immigrant rights activists were arrested inside the Edward R. Roybal federal building in downtown Los Angeles this week after they entered the building and refused to leave, officials said.
The protesters, some of whom said they were undocumented students, were demanding an end to the Secure Communities immigration enforcement program, organizers said.
In addition to the group that entered the building Wednesday, nearly 200 supporters protested outside, police said. Some of them blocked a ramp used by immigration buses, organizers said. The arrests were made by the Federal Protective Service, which is in charge of security at federal buildings. Los Angeles police were also on scene to monitor the crowd, officials said.
The activists were arrested "after they blocked traffic through the building’s lobby and subsequently refused to leave the premises," said Department of Homeland Security spokesman Matt Chandler.
One of the protesters, Ruben Barrera, 17, of Los Angeles, said in a statement that his brother was arrested and then detained by immigration authorities last week.
Under Secure Communities, fingerprints of all inmates booked into local jails and cross-checked with the FBI's criminal database are forwarded to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be screened for immigration status.
“People are afraid to do anything because it can lead them to confrontation with authorities and from there they can be booked and passed to ICE,” said Jesus Barrios, a spokesman for the protesters.
The protest was organized by the San Gabriel Valley and Inland Empire Dream Teams, which are made up of undocumented students and their supporters.