Activists arrested after protest at Alabama immigration facility

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., March 24 Mon Mar 24, 2014 6:33pm EDT

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala., March 24 (Reuters) - Seven immigration activists were arrested in Alabama on Monday after blocking the entrance to a facility where the federal government houses immigrants it plans to deport.

The activists chained themselves to the front doors of the Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden, Alabama, to protest immigrant deportations, according to an immigrants rights group, the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice.

Dozens of other protesters gathered at the detention center. The seven were arrested for failing to obey the local sheriff's department orders to leave, said Etowah Country Sheriff Todd Entrekin in a statement.

Immigration rights advocates in Alabama have increasingly complained about the center, a federal facility where people held on immigration charges await deportation.

"I personally know the feeling of being separated from family by deportation because my father was deported," said David Comparan, one of the activists who was arrested.

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman said many of the detainees at Etowah are brought from out of state and their arrests are not tied to Alabama's immigration law, which is widely considered the most stringent in the country. (Reporting by Verna Gates; Editing by Kevin Gray and Gunna Dickson)

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