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Sunday, July 15, 2018

By Lornet Turnbull, The Seattle Times

SEATTLE — Three years ago, Dolores Lara was stopped by Yakima, Washignton, police on suspicion of DUI, jailed and turned over to immigration authorities, who deported him to his native Mexico.

The father of three, who had labored for more than a decade picking vegetables and fruit in Eastern Washington, struggled in Tijuana to find employment, occasionally picking up work at his nephew’s auto shop.

On Monday, Lara joined 30 other undocumented immigrants who showed up at a border crossing in San Diego, California, seeking to re-enter the U.S. to join family they had left behind.

Another, larger group is expected to attempt a crossing later this week.

Participants in this radical national campaign, called Bring Them Home, know they won’t be allowed back in this country, and that their actions could well land them either in detention or back in Mexico — facing a 10-year or permanent bar to re-entry.

Lara was not allowed to enter.

As the number of deportations under the Obama administration approaches 2 million, Bring Them Home is one of several actions by immigrant advocates here and across the country designed to draw attention to the impact of deportations on families and point out Congress’s inaction on immigration.

Proclaiming not one more deportation, advocates have been protesting outside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, for several months. Inside the facility, frustrations over deportations triggered a hunger strike last Friday when as many as 750 of the 1,300 detainees on Friday stopped eating and demanded better food and conditions, as well as better pay for detention-center jobs.

As the strike entered its fifth day Tuesday, the five immigrants still striking were isolated in a pod and being medically observed.

A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said center staff had been meeting with detainees and that some of their concerns were being addressed. But one of the strike’s leaders told advocates late Tuesday that he planned to continue “for as long as it takes.”

Another action was launched last week by the national group We Belong Together, made up mostly of women immigrants and their supporters: a monthlong fasting campaign expected to roll into the Seattle area later this month. It continues several acts of disobedience that included a sit-in last November at the Bellevue offices of the state Republican Party, where 33 women were arrested.

The group wants to pressure key Republicans to take up immigration legislation this year or risk losing the women’s vote this November.