St. Paul, MN - Seventy people protested outside the Whipple Federal Building, March 24, to send the message “No more deportations” and “ICE out of our communities” to the Trump administration. The emergency response protest was called just two days earlier in response to local provocations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and its umbrella organization, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The Star Tribune newspaper reported that last week ICE detained 26 immigrants in Minnesota as part of a sweep in the Midwest. Last week the Trump administration also announced they’ll send extra immigration judges to 12 places, including Minnesota, to try to speed up deportations. And on the morning of March 22, morning at least ten DHS police were on the Green Line of the light rail train during morning rush hour, which spread panic and outrage. In response to these developments, the emergency response protest was called by the No More Deportations campaign of the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC).
Protesters gathered at the Fort Snelling light rail station and marched to the nearby Whipple Federal Building, which houses the ICE operations center for Minnesota and surrounding states. When ICE detains immigrants, this is where they are taken for processing before being sent to another jail to await their hearing with a judge and possible deportation.
In front of the federal building, immigration lawyer Danielle Briand talked about a group of five of the 26 immigrants detained last week in Minnesota. Briand had recently visited the men at the jail, which is hours away from the Twin Cities, making it difficult for lawyers or family to meet with them and help them. She recounted the heartbreaking decisions their families now face, with parents separated from their partners and their small children, and called on people to continue to protest in the streets to stop these injustices.
A speaker from the Interfaith Coalition on Immigration urged people to continue protesting against deportations and led people in the chant, “Not on our watch!” He also pointed out the hypocrisy of ICE using the Whipple Federal Building for their oppressive operations since the building is named after Henry Whipple, an Episcopal bishop who was a bold leader in speaking out against the injustice of the U.S. government’s war and genocide against Native Americans in the 1800s.
Finally, a representative of the MIRAC No More Deportations campaign said that the main project the campaign is working on is building a rapid response network to respond to ICE operations and raids as they’re happening, and encouraged people to get involved. The network is being built in partnership with several other immigrant rights and community organizations, and trainings have already begun to prepare people to respond in an organized and powerful way to ICE’s presence in Minnesota.