Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) praised activists for attempting to shut down an international thoroughfare on Wednesday while protesting against American immigration policy.
“So proud of our young people taking action to send a clear message to the presidential candidates that inhumane immigration policies [and] deportations must end,” Tlaib said in response to a demonstration held just hours before the second Democratic primary debate.
During the demonstration, protesters attempted to block the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel in order to bring awareness to the American immigration policy, which separates children from accompanying adults after families illegally cross over the U.S. border. Movimiento Cosecha, the group that organized the protest, was also calling for an end to all deportations.
The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, however, connects the city of Detroit with Windsor, Ontario. It is the second busiest crossing between the United States and Canada.
“A vague commitment to support immigration reform is an empty promise that we cannot accept,” Carlos Rojas, a Movimiento Cosecha spokesman, wrote in a statement. “The immigrant community has learned this lesson and we will not let candidates get away with another round of empty promises.”
“We need to know that candidates are serious about solving the daily crisis undocumented workers and families have been facing for decades,” Rojas continued. “That means putting an immediate end to all detention and deportations on their first day in office.”
The protest took place only miles from the venue that would hold the 2020 Democratic presidential debate hours later. The group condemned past presidents — both Democrat and Republican — for deportations and further urged Democratic candidates to immediately legalize of all illegal immigrants if elected to the presidency.
“Nearly every candidate has spoken out against the abuses immigrants are facing under the Trump administration, but simply undoing the policies enacted by Trump is not enough,” said Brenda Valladares, another spokesperson for Movimiento Cosecha. “For decades, many in the Democratic Party have been complicit in attacks on the immigrant community.”
“While Republicans fanned the flames of white supremacy with their anti-immigrant rhetoric, President Barack Obama campaigned on the promise of immigration reform but ended up deporting almost 3 million people,” Valladares continued. “A record in our country’s history.”
Both Movimiento Cosecha and the Detroit Police Department confirmed that dozens of protesters were arrested during the demonstration.
“They were warned three times they’d be arrested if they didn’t move. They said they weren’t leaving and submitted to arrest,” Police Chief James Craig told the Detroit News. “They were all arrested without incident. We’re trying to determine whether they’ll be charged under a city ordinance or if there’s a federal issue with them blocking the tunnel.”
Movimiento Cosecha is “nonviolent movement activating the migrant community and the public at large to fight for permanent protection, dignity, and respect for all immigrants in the United States,” according to the organization’s website.
“When it comes to civil and human rights, Congresswoman Tlaib has a long history of supporting actions and movements that lift up the need for progress and solutions,” Denzel McCampbell, a spokesman for Tlaib told the Daily Wire.
Tlaib’s congressional office also confirmed to the Daily Wire that the congresswoman was not in attendance during the protests.
Movimiento Cosecha did not return the Daily Wire’s request for comment.