White House

Religious Leaders Arrested Outside White House During Immigration Rally

More than 110 people, including nuns, rabbis and pastors, were arrested during an immigration rights protest in front of the White House Thursday afternoon.

Organizers said that the group was demanding an end to President Barack Obama's "inhumane" immigration policies.

"Well, today I think it's the moment to give a message to our president," said Sister Eileen Campbell, a nun who lives and works in Silver Spring.

Campbell said she wanted to be arrested in a show of solidarity with immigrants who are "victims of an unjust and broken immigration system."

The rally began with a prayer service and press conference in Lafayette Park across from the White House, as protesters called on Obama to stop deportations and provide more help to immigrant families and workers.

Later in the afternoon, planners announced 112 people were arrested after purposely getting close enough to the White House fence to attract authorities' attention. They were arrested for  failure to disperse when officers ordered them to.

U.S. Park Police officers used plastic zipties to secure the wrists of the protesters, who appeared to be compliant.

Planners called the protesters' actions a "massive act of civil disobedience" done to garner attention for their cause from Obama.

"He's worked with immigrant groups before, he wants to listen to us, and this is a very strong message to him... to give his executive voice and power to make some changes," said Campbell, who is vice president of the Sisters of Mercy.

She said she sympathized with immigrants and understood the dangers they faced in their home countries.

"...[O]ur sisters from our other countries, from Honduras, from Guatemala, tell us of the gangs and the violence and all of the reasons why people are forced to migrate," she said.

The event was sponsored by several faith groups and immigration advocates, including the United Methodist Church, Church World Service, CASA de Maryland, CASA de Virginia, the Unitarian Universalist Association and others.

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