More than a dozen religious leaders blocked Seventh Street in San Francisco before being arrested this evening in an act of civil disobedience during a rally for immigration reform.
The organization hosting the rally, SF Bay Area Coalition for Immigration Reform, said before the rally that they planned to be arrested to show their support for reform.
The rally, held outside the San Francisco federal building at 90 7th St., was meant to encourage Congress and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to "take leadership and fix this terribly broken immigration system," coalition spokesman Jon Rodney said.
The rally came just hours after a federal judge blocked key parts of a controversial Arizona law that is set to take effect Thursday.
Senate Bill 1070 requires police, "when practicable," to determine the immigration status of people they reasonably suspect to be in the country illegally.
The law drew widespread condemnation from immigration and civil rights advocates and many elected officials, including President Obama.
The U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint earlier this month challenging the constitutionality of the law, and today U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton agreed to an injunction that blocks key provisions of the law.
The law will still go into effect Thursday without those provisions, which include requiring police officers to determine the immigration status of a person detained and arrested, making it a crime for people to not carry alien registration papers, and making it a crime for an unauthorized alien to solicit, apply for or perform work.
Rally organizers are urging Congress to pass the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, also called the DREAM Act, which would create a pathway to citizenship for young immigrants who enlist in the military or attend college.
Rodney said rally organizers also are calling for a halt to collaborations between local law enforcement and U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement officials, such as those that occur with the Secure Communities program, which began to be implemented in San Francisco last month.
The program is active in a number of other counties in California, including Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano and Sonoma counties. Those programs lead to the deportation of about 1,100 immigrants nationwide every day, according to the coalition.