Pro-Immigration Protesters Temporarily Shut Down Hartford Federal Building by Tiffani Jones

Protester addressing the media outside Hartford's federal building.

The doors were locked from the inside and 19 people were arrested during an emotionally charged protest in front of downtown Hartford’s Abraham A. Ribicoff federal building Tuesday afternoon, shutting out immigrants with scheduled appointments.

A crowd of about 100 protesters held up signs and locked arms as they blocked the doors of the federal building, chanting “Deportation, Not One More” in support of Luis Barrios, a Derby-based father of 4 facing deportation due to a 1998 alleged address mix-up that caused him to miss a court hearing to determine an asylum request, and prompted a deportation order.

Barrios, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala with no criminal record and who has been living and working (legally) in the United States for the past two decades and whose children are U.S.-born citizens, has made another desperate appeal for asylum and fears for his life upon returning to Guatemala because of the imminent danger that awaits him there: threats were made on Barrios’ life, and his father and brother were reportedly murdered there.

Luis Barrios is scheduled to leave for Guatemala on May 4th   and is backed by his lawyer and Connecticut lawmakers, who have been working around the clock to reverse the 1998 deportation order and enable him to stay here with his family.

Luis Barrios’ deportation follows the recent plight of East Hartford resident Domingo Ferreira, who had been living in the U.S. legally for the past 30 years, is a married father, and was primary breadwinner for a loving and close-knit family with medical challenges who relied on Domingo’s support. Domingo was served by ICE this past November and separated from his wife, children and grandchildren just before the holidays with little time to garner support from Connecticut politicians and pro-immigration activists, and will likely never return due to President Donald Trump’s aggressive and controversial Executive Order on immigration, which allows and encourages ICE agents to enforce Trump era immigration policies forcefully and indiscriminately, to include targeting immigrants with no criminal records, who have suspended sentences, or who have served time for nonviolent crimes.

Domingo Ferreira & family. Source: Facebook

So far, Diane Ferreira’s life has been on an emotional roller coaster following Domingo’s deportation and subsequent visits to see her husband. The wife and mother has had to come to grips with holding together what’s left of her family in Domingo’s absence, while continuing to support her husband from afar as he settles into a life without his family. Diane has also had to overcome hurdles to be able to go see her husband and help acclimate him to a home that is unfamiliar to him, and is emphatic that his story not be forgotten and erased from the overall immigration conversation; nationally or statewide. “[Domingo says] he had an opportunity to run, but he chose not to and said that he needed to put a face to this injustice so that other immigrants in the same position might have a better outcome or chance. I guess in some ways, you could say he was a martyr and sacrificed his own freedom for a greater good,” Diane says of her husband. “Not enough emphasis has been put on the effect of immigrants who were here legally as well.”

To learn what your rights are as an immigrant, visit: The Immigrant Defense Project, National Immigration Law Center, ACLU, ACLU-Connecticut, International Institute of Connecticut, and United We Dream to help guide your research.

Tiffani Jones is the creator and writer of Coffee Rhetoric, a blog about women, pop-culture, film and race. A frequent contributor to both print and digital media platforms, she is the Digital Content Editor for Northend Agent’s and has offered commentary on HuffPost Live, in the NY Times, and on WNPR. More info about her work can be found on Follow her on Twitter: @Coffey0072