Students protesting ICE, want Bradley to become sanctuary campus

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) Community members are raising their voices against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Bradley University students, with the support of locals in the area, took to the streets, Saturday afternoon, to protest ICE and the organization’s actions toward detainees.

Alejandro Perez, a senior at Bradley, said he wanted to organize the protest after seeing recent reports of ICE allegedly forcing sterilization and hysterectomies on women in custody.

“We want to bring light to a long list of human rights violations ICE has committed,” Perez said.

He said those protesting also want to try to change the negative stigma around immigration.

“Predominantly what we’re seeking to do is change the national discourse around immigration in general,” Perez said. “We want to shift it from something that is seen as criminalized in today’s world into something that is provided as a service.”

Protesters gathered around the Christopher Columbus statue in Laura Bradley park before marching out and occupying the four corners on Main and University Street.

Their chants rotated from English to Spanish with phrases such as “Abolish ICE”, and “no justicia, no paz” meaning “no justice, no peace.” They also proclaimed “el pueblo unido, jamás será vencido” meaning “the people united will never be defeated.” 

Between chants, student speakers also spoke on personal experiences they’ve had dealing with discrimination and the struggles of being Latinx in the U.S.

Perez said they want to start making a different locally by having Bradley University commit to becoming a sanctuary campus.

“We hope that they would sign at least some sort of legally binding document that they would be committed to help ease students’ thoughts and prevent unnecessary anxieties,” Perez said. “Nobody should ever have to feel some sort of uncomfort and should be able to feel safe within a learning environment regardless of documentation status.”

Perez said there’s a meeting planned with Bradley administrators on Tuesday to discuss the matter. He said they will be bringing a petition with students’ concerns as well as information on how to support their undocumented population.

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