Month-long protests in front of the White House by DREAMers and activists whose families have been personally affected by record deportations are set to end in front of a different house — the personal home of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
Ten to 15 activists plan to set up a candlelight vigil early Wednesday morning outside the home of Johnson, who President Obama tasked earlier this year with a review of current enforcement policies, BuzzFeed has learned.
“We want to go very peacefully and bring pictures of those who are still detained,” immigration activist Erika Andiola said. “We don’t want a lot of people; we also understand he has children and a wife.”
Andiola is frustrated that there has been very little movement in two of the cases her organization has been advocating for since the protests and hunger strikes began.
One is the case of Ardany Rosales, a man with two U.S. citizen children, who is in detention after he was arrested on a traffic violation. Rosales is in the same place he was when the activists began their actions in early April.
Things have gone differently for hunger striker and young activist Cynthia Diaz, who will see her mother, Maria del Rosario Rodriguez, for the first time in three years Saturday.
Diaz, an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Arizona, was 15 when she heard her father screaming because Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents came to their home and arrested her mother.
Her mother returned to the United States in March as part of a group of 150 immigrants and was detained. Diaz went to Washington, D.C., to be a part of protests and hunger strikes for her mother’s release. After six days of not eating, Diaz posted in a Facebook status on April 14 that she was crying and felt hopeless because she had ended her hunger strike and because “tomorrow my mom will call me to probably tell me she failed her credible fear interview” — a last shot at staying in the United States.
The next day, however, officials determined there was strong evidence that Diaz’s mother could not go back to Mexico.
“Because she passed the interview, that means she’s a good person,” Diaz told BuzzFeed. “ICE had the option to release her or detain her.”
Diaz found out her mother would be let out on bond Monday, for $7,500. Her father borrowed money from family and friends and made the payment Tuesday morning.
An official told the Diaz that her mother will be released by Wednesday and driven to California, where Diaz, who is in the middle of studying for finals, will see her mother again on Saturday.
Andiola said these stories don’t need to play out this way and she hopes to be able to personally speak with Johnson, who has spoken with protesters outside his home before.
“We want him to come out and to understand why we’re doing this,” Andiola said. “We want him to hear from the people who are affected, we don’t need intermediaries, we want to speak with him directly.”
And, like Reps. Luis Gutierrez and Raul Grijalva, who met and prayed with activists at the protests in front of the White House, Andiola has the same request of the Homeland Security secretary.
“We want Johnson to come out and pray with us.”