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SOUTH SIDE (KDKA) — Immigration rights activists protested in front of the Department of Homeland Security Field Office on the South Side on Monday afternoon.
There was a sound system set up in the street and lots of chanting for change. The group sang together, “What we want is total freedom, ICE and borders, we don’t need ’em.”
Immigration rights activists said their goal is to end what they call the “inhumane and immoral treatment of immigrant families.”
“Justice looks like what we see here before us today. Where people of all walks of life have come together to say enough is enough,” Jamaal Craig, executive director of the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, said.
The protest was jointly organized by Casa San Jose and the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network.
“We need to first claim each other. Reach over and say, ‘I love you. You are my kin,'” Pastor Dave Swanson, of Pittsburgh Mennonite Church in Swissvale, said.
At one point during the hour-and-a-half long demonstration, activists were called for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be entirely disbanded, chanting, “Shut down ICE!”
KDKA-TV News spoke with 19-year-old Hortencia Ortiz-Reyes, a DACA recipient who spoke at the rally.
Ortiz-Reyes was brought here when she was 3 years old, and she said her biggest worry is her parents being deported.
“They sacrificed so much and like I said, they got through constant [expletive] every day,” she said, “and I can’t just sit around and not do anything.”
She also told KDKA it frustrates her that Congress has not come up with a legal fix for the problem.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s not just this administration, it was during the Obama administration. They had the opportunity,” Ortiz-Reyes said. “People are like, oh, once DACA was taken away, people, I heard comments, you know, ‘How could they do that to the kids?’ And it’s like, well, you know, you have got to push Congress. Give them a call and urge them. And I urge everyone to do that.”
The protesters blocked the entrance to the Hot Metal Bridge for a time. Pittsburgh Police were there the entire time, making sure everyone stayed safe, moving with them as they marched. All in all, it was a peaceful demonstration and thankfully no incidents to report.