Today, a group of pro-immigration protesters gathered outside the building housing the offices of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Miami Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart to demand protection for Dreamers, who were brought undocumented to the U.S. as children.
Local police quickly began harassing the small group of activists, seven of whom, including some elderly members, are going on a hunger strike for a week. But they say things went from annoying to terrifying when a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) truck mysteriously appeared and drove by the immigrant activists slowly earlier this afternoon.
"It seemed like an intimidation tactic," Florida Immigrant Coalition activist Paula Muñoz tells New Times. "The truck slowed down where we were and then circled around where we were sitting. We all felt intimidated." She snapped a
Multiple news reports have criticized both CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for ramping up its enforcement practices under the Trump Administration, retaliating against its critics, and acting like a low-rent secret police force for a demonstrably anti-immigrant president. Government agents this year have arrested domestic violence victims, parents of young children, and people outside courthouses. Today's incident does nothing to rebut claims that the force is out of control.
A CBP regional spokesperson, Norma Morfa, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Today kicked off a "week of action" for the groups, and some members will be fasting all week to draw attention to the Trump administration's repeal of both the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (which protects undocumented children from deportation) and TPS, which prevents people from countries such as Haiti and Nicaragua from being deported into disaster zones.
Muñoz said the press conference initially went off without a hitch. But once the group of fasting protesters sat down to begin their hunger-strike, she says Doral Police officers began to verbally harass the group.
Dreamers and allies are going on a week long hunger fast to call on Senator @marcorubio and Congressman @MarioDB to support a #CleanDreamAct and commit to not vote for any spending bill until legislation is brought to a vote. pic.twitter.com/lmkmn7Xb6v— Tomas Kennedy (@Tomaskenn) December 4, 2017
"They told us to move, that we couldn't be on the lawn," Muñoz says. After one cop complained that some of the protesters weren't moving fast enough, Muñoz said the cops began to complain. They said they told the cops that some strikers hadn't eaten for 12 hours.
"There's a Carolina Ale House right across the street that has good food," Muñoz says one of the cops told them.
Muñoz said she was offended.
"Some of these people are making a huge sacrifice," she said. "A lot of folks are sacrificing their bodies. Some are students and have finals this week." Minutes later, the group then saw the CBP truck roll by. Some saw it as a threat.
"As we’re moving, we see CBP vehicle moving where we were," she says. "It definitely felt like an intimidation tactic."