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Immigration office closes for a day amid protests

Oct. 14, 2013 at 2:11 PM

PHOENIX, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- An Arizona Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation center closed for the day Monday in the face of a large protest, organizers said.

The Phoenix center was to be the target of a mass sit-in during which as many as 500 individuals, including members of families who have been split up because some were living here illegally and were deported, planned to participate. Protesters said they planned to block the ICE office's entrance and chain themselves to buses that carry deported individuals to the planes that fly them back to their home countries.

The Arizona Republic said the ICE office was closed Monday with only a sign on the door that said it would reopen Tuesday. The sign made no mention of the Columbus Day holiday. A representative from the office couldn't be reached to comment on the reason for the closure. It was also not immediately clear whether the deportations the office oversees were continuing despite the office itself being closed.

The Arizona Republic said incidents of civil disobedience have increased as momentum for immigration reform has stalled in Washington.

A Tucson immigration office was targeted by similar protests recently with organizers blocking the entrance to a parking lot so deportation buses couldn't leave.

Organizers have called on President Barack Obama to extend his DREAM Act policy to all illegal immigrants, offering a two-year pause on deportations for individuals who were brought here as minors and are no more than 30 years old. Obama has said he will not expand the DREAM Act to all illegal immigrants because it would be illegal.

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