Young illegal immigrants rally in downtown L.A. to support Dream Act
More than 170 students and Dream Act supporters rallied in front of the Federal Office Building in downtown Los Angeles on Friday to voice their support for President Obama's decision to halt the deportation of young illegal immigrants.
After the downtown rally, they boarded buses headed to MacArthur Park.
Dream Team LA, the California Dream Network and the Orange County Dream Team organized the event under the national umbrella of the United We Dream Network. The Dream Act is a bill that would create a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants who are college students and military service members.
Carrying signs reading "Stop tearing families apart" and "Obama, you can't court and deport us," students formed a human chain to block the entrance to the southbound 101 Freeway at Los Angeles and Aliso streets.
Another line of students sat outside the Federal Office Building. Christian Lira, 22, was born in Nogales, Mexico. He came to the U.S. when he was 10 years old.
"I'm happy for administration relief, but that's just the beginning," Lira said.
Lira wants to see the entire Dream Act passed.
At 9:30 a.m., security officers at the Federal Office Building were standing by, observing the rally. Because the students were on the street and not on federal property, policing them was left to the LAPD, said one security officer who did not want to be named.
A bystander watched the rally with mixed feelings. He was in the second car from the front of the intersection before the students blocked the streets.
"If you want to demonstrate, fine, but don't do it in the street. It's a public hazard," said the man, who asked not to be identified.
Ricardo Muniz, 23, attends Fullerton College and was part of the committee that organized the event. He said the purpose was to get attention, not perform civil disobedience.
"When we're asked to get up and leave, we will leave," he said.
At about 10 a.m., in front of news cameras, the students could be heard chanting, "Undocumented! Unafraid!"
-- Melissa Leu and Esmeralda Bermudez at the Federal Building
Photo: Students sit in the street during Dream Act rally downtown. Credit: Al Seib /Los Angeles Times