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Hundreds gather in DC to protest immigration enforcement

Hundreds gather in DC to protest immigration enforcement
© Max Greenwood

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered near the White House on Saturday in protest of raids following President Trump's executive order ramping up immigration enforcement.

Holding signs bearing calls to resist the Trump administration's "anti-immigrant" policies, some 200 protesters chanted "here to stay" and "undocumented, unafraid."

The protest, called together earlier Saturday, capped off a week marked by the first large-scale enforcement of Trump's Jan. 25 executive order cracking down on the roughly 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally.

Trump has vowed to deport 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records, but the sweeping immigration enforcements raids this past week have been criticized by activists and Democratic leaders.

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U.S. immigration officials arrested hundreds of undocumented immigrants across the country this week in cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and New York.

At least 161 arrests were made in Los Angeles and 200 were made in Atlanta, though Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials did not say many arrests were made in total.

One by one on Saturday, speakers took turns voicing concerns that their friends and families could soon become targets of federal immigration agents.

"These are the same raids that are terrorizing our entire community," said Deyanira Aldana, one of the speakers at the rally. "Rogue ICE agents come into our places of work, into our homes, into our neighborhood spots, and wait for our community to be vulnerable."

As the sun began to set Saturday evening, the crowd broke from its position on the east end of the White House and marched through the surrounding streets, briefly blocking traffic before ending on the west end of the building. 

"Trump's goal for the next four years will be to expand the term 'criminals,'" said Ambar Pinto, another speaker. "It's a duty to resist. It is a duty to be the opposition."

At several points during the rally, which was organized by activists with United We Dream, protesters acted out scenarios demonstrating allegedly intimidating treatment by immigration agents.

Trump promised a sweeping crackdown on illegal immigration during his White House campaign and has vowed to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border as part of a tougher position on illegal immigration. 

Updated: 6:47 p.m.