Protestors march to White House, criticizing Secure Communities immigration program

WASHINGTON (WJLA) – Lawmakers are getting ready to break for summer recess, and there is still no deal on a bill to address the crisis at the border. Meanwhile, advocates continue to point out how America’s immigration system is broken.

Three weeks ago, President Obama vowed to bypass Congress and use his executive power to fix the country’s immigration system. But some say nothing has happened since; they want the president to deliver on his promises.

More people are being deported because of what is called 287(g) Secure Communities, a federal program that allows certain local law enforcement officers to act as immigration agents. It was supposed to target and deport undocumented criminals, but instead, critics say it is destroying families.

“Me and my sisters need our mom,” said 11-year-old Jennifer Leiva.

Leiva took part in a protest on Tuesday, not far from the White House. Born in Prince George’s County, Md., Leiva worries her undocumented mother may not be here in the United States much longer. Her mother has another immigration court date in August.

“I’m afraid that this time she goes that they may keep her permanently,” Leiva said. “I don’t want that to happen, because I know what it’s like to be with only one parent, and I don’t want that to happen to any other kid.”

Tuesday’s protest, which turned into a march to the White House, was headed by leaders of different faiths.

Jacek Orzechowski, of St. Camillus Catholic Parish, says it is critically important that faith leaders address immigration reform. He says it is not just a social and political issue, but a moral one.

“We are here to uphold the dignity of every human person,” he said. “We are here to bring moral, spiritual values to our politics. We are also here for the wellbeing of our children, the little ones.”

Locally, this is not the first time the Secure Communities program has come under fire. Earlier in July, Prince William County asked the federal government how many undocumented immigrants who were arrested in the county had been deported. If the federal government does not provide Prince William County with this information, the county will likely sue.