WEST VALLEY CITY (News4Utah) – Dozens of people from various backgrounds rallied outside of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Thursday afternoon to protest the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s treatment of immigrants and the separation of families along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The event was organized by Lex Scott with Black Lives Matter Utah, who said her organization fights for every marginalized group in the country.
“There is a massive black immigrant population in Utah. Yes, there are black immigrants. However, we are definitely here to support our Latin brothers and sisters and stand in solidarity with them,” said Scott.
Chase Robinette, a member of Workers World Party participated in the protest today. He said the recent events involving immigrants in the United States hits close to home for him because of his Latino background with immigrant ties.
“One of the reasons why we can’t turn a blind eye to this is that there’s millions and millions of people affected by this migration crisis,” said Robinette. “These people do need somewhere to live. These people are fleeing disease, famine, poverty, war, and drugs. We simply cannot allow them to live in their current conditions. It’s also a disservice to think that this is their problem.”
He said he feels immigrants are often exploited in the United States.
“Immigrants are worth more than their labor in this country. They bring along rich culture, rich history, and rich stories, which I think is one of the most important aspects of a human being beyond their labor,” said Robinette.
Participants chanted statements such as, “Abolish ICE!” during the protest, urging employees to reconsider who they work for and what they’re doing.
“Utah has a two percent unemployment rate. We have more jobs than qualified candidates,” said Scott. “They made the choice to work here and it doesn’t make a difference whether they’re a janitor or the head of homeland security, they don’t need to work for this oppressive regime. They need to quit or they need to fight against what’s happening in there and stand up for what’s right.”
“This is a stain on them. This is something they’ll live with. This is something that will be discussed in history and they will be wrong,” said Robinette.
In response to the protest, Carl Rusnok, Director of Communications with ICE issued this statement to News4Utah:
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) fully respects the Constitutional rights of all people to peacefully express their opinions. That being said, ICE remains committed to performing its immigration enforcement mission consistent with federal law and agency policy.”
Scott said this protest is one of many her organization will have outside of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The event leads up to a nationwide demonstration called “Families Belong Together and Free.” Locally, the event will take place at the Utah State Capitol on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.