15 protesters jailed after Orlando immigration reform protest



ORLANDO, Fla. - Dozens of protesters moved their march for immigration reform from downtown Orlando to the Orange County Jail Tuesday.

They held a candlelight vigil for the 15 protesters who were arrested, and will remain behind bars until they bond out.

The protesters were arrested after they blocked traffic at a busy intersection in downtown Orlando on Tuesday.

Hundreds gathered to march in favor of immigration reform and to demand a clear path to citizenship, but more than a dozen took to the street in a sit-down protest.

Video obtained by Skywitness 9 HD showed at least a dozen people form a circle in the intersection of North Hughey Avenue and Washington Street, setting up a table with food and joining hands as police stood nearby.

Law enforcement officers allowed the group to sit there for nearly 30 minutes before they began arresting people.

Those marching are asking lawmakers to follow the lead of California U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham and support the latest House comprehensive immigration reform bill. Last weekend, Denham became the first House Republican to join the Democrat-backed legislation.

Farmworkers, students and their supporters are pressing GOP Reps. Dennis Ross, Tom Rooney and Daniel Webster to follow suit.

The group said every day that members of Congress don't act, they are allowing deportations and separation of families.

"We have enough votes to pass immigration reform but we have someone, an obstacle in our way, that's John Boehner, and we want him to get out of way of the progress that can be made," Ciara Taylor of Dream Defenders said.

Taylor was one of the 15 arrested when they sat in the middle of Hughey Avenue during rush hour traffic, a planned protest according to organizers.

An Orlando police spokesperson said they gave several warnings before making the arrests.

One man made the trip to D.C. for a similar protest in which he was arrested there.

"It was an honor to spend 12 hours in jail, because it is time, the time is now for immigration reform because every day 1,200 families are being deported," protester Pedro Alaniz said.

Some of family members of those deported were at Tuesday's protest to show their support.

"I have family who has been arrested," Mireya Ledesma said.

By 8 a.m. Wednesday all of the protesters had posted bond and been released from the Orange County Jail. A small crowd was on hand to cheer them and offer them a warm breakfast as they walked out of the jail.

"We knew that this would be a possibility and we were willing to take that risk," said one Jeremy Haicken-Cruz as he walked out of the jail.