Updated Oct 14, 2013 - 4:52 pm
Crowd gathers in Phoenix to protest deportations
PHOENIX -- Protesting immigration activists danced and chanted Monday outside a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Phoenix, calling on President Barack Obama to end all deportations.
While organizers aimed to stop deportations for at least the day, the ICE office where protesters gathered was closed for Columbus Day.
Adelina Nicholls of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights and about a dozen others traveled from the Atlanta area for the event.
``We want to send a message to President Obama to stop deportations,'' Nicholls said as music blared in the background and people danced on the sidewalk. ``There's been enough suffering already. We need to reunite families.''
Immigration reform had been a key topic in Congress until the partial federal government shutdown started Oct. 1, which has largely stalled talks on anything else but getting a budget hammered out and averting a government default looming Thursday.
The Phoenix protest drew about 250 people and comes on the heels of several other protests nationwide.
More than 40 students, immigrant activists and their parents spent the night outside the Broward Transitional Center north of Miami Sunday as part of a series of actions around the country, waving signs and chanting into the early morning hours Monday.
In Central Florida, more activists and a coalition of clergy from various religious organizations were set to end a 150-mile walk in Tampa Monday night with a vigil led by the Dioceses of St. Petersburg.
In California, about 2,000 supporters of immigration reform marched through Hollywood Saturday, pushing for congressional action. Rallies also took place this weekend in New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, New Mexico and Boston.
Earlier this month, House Democrats unveiled an immigration bill proposing an extended path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants illegally present in the U.S., along with heightened border security, but hopes waned of any action taking place by year's end as the budget stalemate dragged on.
In Phoenix, protesters chanted ``no more deportations'' and ``shut down ICE'' as they swarmed the parking lot of the closed ICE building. Phoenix police lined the road, keeping people off the streets and monitoring for any actions that would merit arrests. None had taken place by late afternoon.
``We're tired of the policies that are deporting our communities,'' said one of the event organizers, Marisa Franco of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. ``We think it's illogical and unjust that while Congress is debating reform, the people who could benefit from that reform are being deported.''
ICE officials did not respond to requests for comment because of the partial government shutdown and the holiday.
AP writer Laura Wides-Munoz contributed to this report from Miami.