Gathering outside the Santa Maria Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office at 740 W. Century St. on Monday morning, a small group of 16 community members held signs and participated in chants calling for the end of detention centers and the threat of deportation in the undocumented community.
Members of the Lompoc Valley Democratic Club organized the event, with participants creating a tribute to those who have died in ICE custody, complete with flowers and candles.
Organizers said the action was partly organized in light of a July 6 mandate by by the Trump administration requiring international students taking only online classes in the fall to leave the country despite having student visas.
While the facility at 740 W. Century Street is not a detention center, it does serve as a processing and temporary holding facility for those taken into ICE custody following release from jail or prison.
More than 200 universities are backing a legal challenge to the new restrictions on international students, arguing that the policy jeopardizes students' safety and forces schools to reconsider fall plans they have spent months preparing.
A judge is scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday in the case brought by Harvard and MIT. If the judge does not suspend the rule, colleges across the U.S. will have until Wednesday to notify ICE if they plan to be fully online this fall.
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