- Actions are expected in 10 U.S. cities
- Protesters want an immediate end to the Secure Communities program
- Obama won two-thirds of the Hispanic and Latino vote in 2008
Latino activists said Monday they are planning a national "day of action" to protest President Barack Obama and demand an end to a controversial program involving local officials in immigration enforcement.
Actions are scheduled for Tuesday in 10 U.S. cities, including Atlanta, New York, Houston and San Francisco.
"Since signaling a new course in our immigration policy a few weeks ago, President Obama has continued his aggressive persecution, jailing, and deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants who he has labeled 'criminals' and whose lives are being destroyed through traffic violations and similar minor infractions," said Roberto Lovato of Presente.org, a Latino rights organization.
Protesters want an immediate end to Secure Communities, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement program that seeks to find unauthorized immigrants who have criminal records and deport them.
Federal officials have praised the program, arguing it allows authorities to catch criminals who would otherwise fall through the cracks. But critics say it results in the deportations of immigrants who are in the United States illegally but have no criminal arrest records.
Tuesday's protests are timed to coincide with the airing of "Lost in Detention," a PBS Frontline documentary about immigration detention and enforcement strategies.
More than 1 million immigrants have been deported since Obama took office, activists say.
The president won two-thirds of the Hispanic and Latino vote in the 2008 presidential election, according to national exit polls. Keeping that vote is key to his re-election chances.
"We will be mobilizing our community and educating them on how to fight back against abuses on the street, in prison and at the ballot box," said Adelina Nicholls of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, which is planning a town hall-type meeting in Atlanta on Tuesday.
In an August 2 report, the Department of Homeland Security said Secure Communities was active in more than 1,500 jurisdictions across the country.