As undocumented young people lose their temporary protected status and Republican lawmakers push for legislation that would ramp up deportations, an estimated 15,000 people marched on Capitol Hill Wednesday while hundreds—including two lawmakers—were arrested in a peaceful protest to demand that Congress pass a clean Dream Act.
The Dream Act, first introduced in Congress in 2001, would enable undocumented people who were brought to the United States as children and meet other criteria to remain in the United States legally. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, implemented by former President Barack Obama, was seen as a temporary fix until Congress could agree on legislation that addressed the status of this group.
Since the Trump admininstration announced in September its plans to phase out the DACA program—with no legislation in place to provide similar protections—immigrant rights advocates have increased the pressure on legislators to pass a bill that allows DACA recipients to remain in the country without including provisions that would target other undocumented immigrants, hence the term "clean" Dream Act.
The protesters also called for the administration to stop its rollback of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which is offered to citizens of certain countries impacted by war and violence or natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes. Last month, the Trump administration ended TPS protections for Haitians and Nicaraguans displaced by natural disasters, forcing thousands of legal residents to either leave the United States before their status expires or face deportation.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) addressed the crowd on Wednesday, with Gutiérrez vowing to not vote for the budget unless it includes a clean Dream Act.
Gutiérrez, Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), and national leaders of United Farm Workers were reportedly among the hundreds who were arrested for peacefully demonstrating on the steps of the Capitol building.
#BREAKINGNEWS! .@UFWupdates President & .@UFWF Board President .@ArtieRodriguez, .@RepJudyChu , .@RepGutierrez .@Angelica Salas are being arrested at nations capitol calling for clean #DREAMActNow #CleanDreamActNOW .@LaCampesina883 .@UNITEDWEDREAM .@FWD_us .@Re4mImmigration pic.twitter.com/d230mnpobk— United Farm Workers (@UFWupdates) December 6, 2017
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The group Popular Democracy said it was "one of the largest" acts of civil disobedience in the history of the U.S. immigrant rights movement.
TODAY 15,000+ people, community leaders and advocates will gather in DC to demand Congress to take immediate action and pass a clean #DreamActNow & #SaveTPS --in what is one of the largest ever civil disobedience in immigrant rights movement history of the US! pic.twitter.com/uNyVkcTXfH— Popular Democracy (@popdemoc) December 6, 2017
Some marchers with DACA status shared the number of days they are legally allowed to remain in the U.S. before they will face possible deportation.
"It's important for me to pass a clean #DreamActNow because even tho I have 365 days, I have family members who's DACA have already expired."— United We Dream (@UNITEDWEDREAM) December 6, 2017
Call on behalf of Marvin who needs a clean #DreamActNow! We need your support today.
CALL: (215) 874-6784 pic.twitter.com/IayBHYodqe
Those who were unable to march were urged to call their members of Congress to encourage them to pass a Dream Act for DACA recipients that is potentially more expansive than the terminated program and that does not endanger other immigrants who will not be eligible for protections.
MAKE A CALL. It really, really helps.— National Immigration Law Center (@NILC_org) December 6, 2017
We're shooting for 10,000 calls and only 200 have been made so far.
WE CAN DO THIS!
Get all the info and scripts you need at https://t.co/7tEwEk2z0p#DreamActNow pic.twitter.com/XoOmFcNM9d