Protestors filled the steps and sidewalk in front of downtown Rochester's Federal Building on Friday for a rally against recent deportation actions taken in the area.
A string of speakers and immigrant rights activists from Metro Justice, Worker Justice Center of New York, and other organizations spoke on the importance of farm workers in the state's agriculture industry; how recently enacted federal policies will affect people; and the importance of solidarity among different communities.
Last night, Geneseo police pulled over a van containing two women and five children (ranging in age from 2 months to 12 years) for speeding, and then called Border Patrol. Geneseo police stated that the driver has a Guatemalan passport and there was no driver's license in the van, so they called Border Patrol to assist in identification and communication.The families were taken into custody. Advocates say some of those taken into custody are US citizens. Eventually all were released late Thursday except for one of the adults and a 12-year-old boy, who were released Friday morning.
The arrests sparked a protest last night at the Rochester Border Patrol office in Irondequoit, during which two demonstrators were arrested.
Last night's detainment comes on the heels of the arrest of five farm workers in Albion on Tuesday morning. Today's rally was originally planned following that action. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in unmarked cars pulled over a van of farm workers and detained them without a warrant, advocates say, in "targeted enforcement activity." The driver of the van was licensed, and no ticket was issued. Those arrested were transferred to the detention center.
Weighing in the back of activists' minds is also the detainment of Jose Coyote Perez, an undocumented farm worker with a work permit, on February 24.
Speakers at Friday's protest also announced a vigil for Perez will be held Thursday, March 30, at the detention center, beginning at 9 a.m.