Protestors speak out against Trump's immigration tactics and I.C.E. raids

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) --

The rain didn't hold them back; more than a hundred people gathered at Gainesville City Hall to protest the federal government's policies over immigration.

The atmosphere at the "Lights for Liberty" event was electric, even if a bit gloomy because of the weather. Still, many with umbrellas in one hand and signs in the other came to hear testimonies from political, religious and activist leaders speaking on the topic of shutting down the camps where undocumented immigrants and their children are kept.

They called it a "vigil to raise awareness," but it took on the feel of a protest against detaining undocumented immigrants and this weekend's planned I.C.E. raids across the country.

Marcie Stefan, the President of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus said, "it's people from all walks of life just standing alongside immigrants against the hate this administration is doing to them from detention centers to the ICE raids already happening in Miami."

This week President Trump spoke about those exact raids:
"It starts on Sunday and they're going to take people out and they're going to bring them back to their countries or they're going to take criminals out to put them in prison or put them in prison in the countries they came from. We're focused on criminals as much as we can. For instance, MS 13 -- very important -- was taken out by the thousands.

One woman who spoke survived being a Cuban refugee held in Guantanamo Bay in 1994 as a young girl and is now working to help all refugees who she says 25 years later are facing similar treatment.
Reina Saco said, "the last four years have been rough because I see myself in all of these kids, and I'm a civil rights attorney this is literally why I went into this type of work so I can help other people and so that this wouldn't repeat and sadly it's repeating so I'm seeing that we just don't learn."

As for undocumented immigrants here in North Central Florida, speakers said there's roughly 3000 in Alachua County alone.
Marcie Stefan said, "they're all around you, they're probably people that you wouldn't even imagine they're undocumented and have been here for years working hard and paying their dues and doing what's right."

I.C.E. raids are expected to begin this Sunday in ten major cities across the country including New Orleans, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta.