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Protest held in San Francisco over raids targeting Central American refugees

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Protesters shut down a street in San Francisco Tuesday, demanding changes to immigration policy. (KGO-TV)

Protesters shut down a street in San Francisco Tuesday, demanding changes to immigration policy.

Members of the group say they're upset over what they say are federal government raids targeting Central American women and children refugees.

Protesters said they've had it with the latest round of immigration sweeps. "We're here to make sure that there's a stop to the criminalization of people who are fleeing violence out of their countries, especially Central America," Julio Saldado said.

Although the Obama administration had said it would focus on deporting criminals, not families, things changed after a flood of people began crossing the border from Central America.

Some rode on top of train cars and last month the White House ordered a new wave of deportations. "I think what they're trying to do here is send a message to Central America saying don't come," former U.S. Homeland Security official John Sandweg said.

The protesters were chained together with padlocks as they took over a busy intersection and brought traffic to a stop.

Police moved in to clear out protesters -- many who were undocumented themselves.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released a statement saying: "We fully respect the rights of all people to voice their opinion without interference. DHS remains committed to sensible, effective immigration enforcement that focuses on its priorities."

However, protesters want those priorities to change. "Instead of criminalizing people who are coming here for survival, we should be taking them in and saying that they're not criminals," Saldado said.

The protest stems from a statewide day of action against the raids with rallies taking place in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Related Topics:
immigrationprotestrefugeesICEpoliticsSan FranciscoFinancial District
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