Students Protest Ahead of Obama’s Civil Rights Speech

AUSTIN (TIP): The day before President Obama gives his keynote address at the LBJ Presidential Library’s Civil Rights Summit, a group of about 30 protesters took aim at the president’s record on deportations during a demonstration at the University of Texas at Austin.

“I want to show my community that I’m here for them, that I will fight for them,” said Juan Belman, 21, an engineering major and one of four protesters who chained themselves to a statue of Martin Luther King Jr. during Tuesday’s demonstration on the east side of campus.

An immigrant himself, Belman said his father went through deportation proceedings three years ago and that he has several close friends who have been deported. “Too many families are being separated, and we cannot stand for children being left behind,” he said. The Obama administration is on track to oversee a record number of deportations.

During President George W. Bush’s time in office, just over 2 million people were deported. During Obama’s time in office, 1.8 million people have been deported so far. The administration has said that it’s following the law and that deportations target criminals first.

At Wednesday’s protest, organized by United We Dream, a national youth-led organization devoted to immigrants rights, and UT-Austin’s University Leadership Initiative, students and local activists rallied with signs that read “Obama’s civil rights legacy: 2,000,000 deportations” and classic protest songs, including “We Shall Overcome.” Immigrant advocates at the protest said the deportations are tearing families apart.

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