Pro-immigrant protesters snarl New York City morning commute

October 26, 2016 11:14 AM EDT

Police officers detain protesters who had been holding a pro-immigrant sign while blocking several lanes of the upper level of the George Washington Bridge in New York, New York, U.S. October 26, 2016. @sosui140/Handout via REUTERS


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By David Ingram

(Reuters) - Pro-immigrant protesters chained themselves together and blocked lanes on the George Washington Bridge between New Jersey and New York City on Wednesday, briefly halting traffic during the morning rush on the busiest U.S. bridge.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bridge, said delays were as long as 90 minutes on the bridge's upper level on the city-bound side.

Ten protesters were arrested, Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman said.

The protesters held a sign that read, "Deport ICE," an acronym for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Coleman said.

The immigration agency oversees thousands of deportations weekly and has deported more than 2 million immigrants under Democratic President Barack Obama, more than under any previous administration.

An organization calling itself the Laundry Workers Center said on its website that it helped organize the protesters, who it said included immigrants and supporters.

"The immigrant community is tired of being in the shadows," Laundry Workers Center co-director Mahoma López said in a statement on the website.

"For many years we are here, we contribute, we pay taxes, we build this country, but in the end, we don't have the right to participate in the decisions at the local and national levels," the statement said.

No one from the center could immediately be reached for comment.

According to the website, the Laundry Workers Center assists laundry, warehouse and food service workers.

Pictures posted on social media showed the protesters clasping a banner that read, "Resist, organized, rise up!"

They began blocking east-bound traffic at about 8:15 a.m. and were removed from the roadway by 8:30, Coleman said. All lanes had reopened by 8:50, he said, adding that there were no injuries or property damage.

On social media, people recalled the "Bridgegate" lane closures at the same span in 2013. Two aides to New Jersey's Republican governor Chris Christie are on trial in connection with the scandal, charged with ordering traffic gridlock as pay back for a mayor who had declined to endorse Christie's reelection bid.



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