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Immigrant groups urge Obama to halt deportations

Immigration authorities have set a record number of deportations in the last two years of the Obama administration.

MIAMI, August 17, 2011 (AFP) – Immigrant rights groups protested across the country Tuesday against US President Barack Obama’s policies on deportation, warning he could lose Hispanic votes when he runs for reelection in 2012.

Demonstrators rallied at Democratic Party offices in Miami, Chicago, Boston, Houston and Atlanta against the more than one million deportations since Obama took office—“more than at any time in American history,” noted demonstrator Felipe Matos of the rights group Presente.org.

The groups also urged Washington to scrap a federal fingerprint-sharing program aimed at deporting illegal immigrants.

US authorities “can’t be allowed to continue the Gestapo-like actions that intimidate our communities for not having documents,” said Maria Rodriguez, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, at the march in Miami.

Activists warned Obama could lose the support of the Hispanic community—which heavily backed him in 2008 — over his immigration policies, which mainly affect the booming Latin American population in the United States.

“Enough is enough,” said Matos, a 25-year-old Brazilian business management student.

“If the president continues to alienate Latinos, he will lose the community’s support in the upcoming election, plain and simple.”

Diego Sanchez, of the Students Working for Equal Rights group, said Obama “cannot expect the Latino community to simply stand by and watch as he expands this program that tears families apart and destroys the dreams of millions of young undocumented DREAMers.”

He was referring to the DREAM Act, which would offer conditional permanent residency status to some students without proper US documentation who complete high school. The legislation has long been stalled in the US Congress.

Obama has called for comprehensive immigration reform that would include strengthening borders but also granting a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country.

His Republican rivals have adamantly rejected what they say would amount to “amnesty” for illegal immigrants and have said the administration has not done enough to secure the US-Mexico border.

 

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