Immigration advocates and supporters staged protests Saturday in San Jose and other big cities across the country in a renewed effort to push President Barack Obama to put a freeze on deportations.
Organizers of the more than 50 planned "Day of Action" demonstrations said Obama has the executive power to stop deportations that separate immigrants living in the country illegally from their loved ones.
In Eloy, Ariz., more than 100 supporters converged in front of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center after journeying more than 60 miles from Phoenix.
Natally Cruz, an organizer with the grass-roots group Puente Arizona, said many of the people in attendance have relatives who have been inside the facility for more than a year.
"We want President Obama and his administration to really hear our community members across the country, to understand we do not want one more person separated," said Cruz, who entered the U.S. at age 8 illegally with her parents. "One family every night goes to bed missing somebody in their family."
In San Jose, a dozen peaceful protesters were arrested at 11:30 a.m. Saturday and cited for failure to disperse after they sat down in the intersection of Story and King roads.
Sgt. Heather Randol, a San Jose police spokeswoman, said the protesters had let the department know of their intent in advance and an advisory was issued Friday warning motorists of potential delays at the East San Jose intersection Saturday morning.
"We were prepared," Randol said. "The activists wanted to make their point, and we wanted to make sure that nobody would get hurt. It was all very peaceful. Nobody resisted and there was no use of any kind of force."
Randol said the protesters were cited and released at the scene.
On Friday, 23 demonstrators were arrested in San Francisco for blocking traffic at Sutter and Montgomery in the financial district.
At the Phoenix protest, many walked with signs saying "Not 1 More Deportation." The group included a woman whose son has been in the Eloy Detention Center for nearly three years and a woman who was arrested at her work and detained for two months, the group said.
The Eloy Police Department had about five officers monitoring the rally. Sgt. Brian Jerome said the demonstration was relatively peaceful with no arrests.
Amber Cargile, an ICE spokeswoman in Phoenix, said the agency respects the rights of people to protest outside its facilities.
"While we continue to work with Congress to enact common-sense immigration reform, ICE remains committed to sensible, effective immigration enforcement that focuses on its priorities, including convicted criminals and those apprehended at the border while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States," Cargile said.
In March, Obama asked Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to review enforcement practices to ease his administration's rate of deportations.
Staff writer Mark Emmons and The Associated Press contributed to this report.