HARTFORD -- Protesters gathered outside the Hartford Federal building Tuesday blocking access to the building that houses immigration court.
The protest is in response to the scheduled deportation of a Derby father of four who has lived in the U.S. for 25 years. Luis Barrios is set to be deported back to his native Guatemala on Thursday morning.
Barrios already has the support of Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro as well as Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy who wrote to ICE asking the agency to reconsider its decision and grant Barrios's request for prosecutorial discretion.
Among the dozens of supporters who protested on Tuesday, 19 of them decided to take more drastic action.
"I don't know who could possibly be good enough to stay in this country if Luis Barrios is not," said Natalie Alexander.
"ICE could at any moment, with the swipe of a pen, keep Luis's family together. This is totally at their discretion. This is completely about how they want to treat these people and they are under no obligation to deport him. I hope that this shows ICE that we are here, we are watching them, and we are not going to allow people to disappear without a big fight," she said.
Alexander and 18 others sat side by side blocking the doors to the federal building knowing they would likely be arrested.
Sophie Sokolov said, "I don't believe that anybody should be deported and I'll stay here and put my body on the line until all deportations are stopped."
In response, security inside the building locked the doors and did not allow anyone inside, even those who had immigration hearings scheduled. The protesters said they would have allowed people to walk by them into the building.
The doors remained locked for more than a hour until Hartford Police announced they would begin making arrests if the protesters remained in place.
All 19 were arrested without incident and charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct.