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Thousands rally in Dallas for overhaul of immigration system





DALLAS — Thousands of people joined a march and rally in downtown Dallas to call for an overhaul of the nation’s immigration system and an end to what organizers say is an aggressive deportation policy.

Organizers, who called Sunday’s event the “Dallas Mega March,” said President Trump’s executive orders restricting travel from predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East are discriminatory.

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They also demanded an end to hate crimes and hate speech, which they contend have risen since the November presidential election.

The march began at the Dallas Catholic cathedral and ended about 1½ miles away with a rally at City Hall, where speakers included Martin Luther King III, son of the slain civil rights leader.

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The event also drew several predominantly Democratic local officials and state lawmakers, as well as entertainers, including actor Jamie Foxx.

Police said the march was peaceful, and there were no immediate reports of arrests. A few counterdemonstrators stood by during the march, and at least one held a banner supporting Trump.

Dallas teacher Esseiny Alanis, a Mexican immigrant, stood with fourth-graders Sanjuanita Rodriguez and Maritza Monroy at the rally.

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“Every child deserves a right to go to school without fear of losing a parent,” Alanis told the Dallas Morning News. “My children are the future of the world.”

Sanjuanita, 10, said she came for her parents who are Mexican immigrants. “I’m here for the family, for rights, and for justice,” she said.

Organizers of the event issued a statement calling for “an end to aggressive deportation efforts that have separated families . . . and left our communities in fear.

“We are calling for an end to executive orders that have discriminated against our Muslim brothers and sisters based on their faith,’’ they said. “We are calling for an end to hate crimes and hate speech that have increased since the election, and we want to join together and send a message that hate has no place in our nation.”

On Saturday, the White House announced that Trump intends to nominate Lee Francis Cissna to head Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency that processes immigration and naturalization applications.

The agency is part of the Department of Homeland Security, where Cissna currently works as director of immigration policy in the Office of Policy.

Cissna previously served at Citizenship and Immigration Services, in the office of the chief counsel. He also is a former US foreign service officer who was stationed in Haiti and Sweden.

Trump has taken a firm stance on immigration since his inauguration, signing executive orders with the intention of tightening border security and restricting the arrival of travelers from certain countries and refugees.

On Thursday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested 82 people in northern Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Maryland, in a sweep the agency called “targeted immigration enforcement.”

Officials said that of those arrested, 68 had criminal convictions. The remaining 14 were picked up in the five-day operation for ties to the MS-13 street gang, outstanding deportation warrants, overstaying visas, local charges, or illegally entering the country.

One person is wanted by a foreign law enforcement agency, while another has been identified as an officer in a Somali group known for human rights violations.

Those with standing orders for deportation or who have returned after deportation can be removed immediately, while the rest await hearings. ICE said it could not identify those detained as they were arrested on civil charges.

Immigrant workers at a famed New York bakery who are threatened with being fired if they don’t produce legal work papers defied the government outside Trump’s Manhattan home on Saturday.

Thirty-one employees of the Tom Cat Bakery also could be deported if they don’t prove by April 21 that they’re in the country legally.

The mostly Spanish-speaking workers and about 100 supporters rallied outside Trump Tower to protest what they called the Trump administration’s bullying.

Tom Cat managers summoned the workers one by one last month to tell them that the Department of Homeland Security was investigating the company, and they would be fired if they could not provide the documents, according to Daniel Gross, executive director of Brandworkers, a nonprofit that defends food manufacturing workers’ rights.

Calls to the Tom Cat plant in Queens went unanswered.

‘‘It made me feel so sad, angry at the same time, because I never expected this was going to happen,’’ said Hector Solis, 45, a native of Mexico City and a Brooklyn resident.

He supports his family with work that starts at 4:30 a.m. daily. Solis had a heart attack several years ago and is afraid of losing his job, along with his health insurance.

Though he produced what appeared to be work documents a dozen years ago for his job, he acknowledges that he is not legally permitted to work in the United States but says he has been paying US taxes for 20 years.

The 31 workers are represented by the Urban Justice Center ‘‘in their struggle to remain in their jobs and inspire working people around the country to resist immigration enforcement actions,’’ the nonprofit said in a statement released by attorney Reena Arora.

She said the center is considering various legal options.


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