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Activist from migrants organizations Cosecha (Harvest) and TPS Alliance protest near the White House on April 30 in Washington, D.C., to demand more immigration action from the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden. (Photo: Nicholas Kamm / AFP via Getty Images)

Demanding 'Papers Not Crumbs,' Undocumented Immigrants Risk Arrest Outside Biden White House

"I won't accept piecemeal bills that exclude and criminalize my own community members," said organizer Hector Morales. "We need permanent protection for all."

Julia Conley

Several immigrant rights advocates were arrested by the U.S. Secret Service near the White House Friday after taking part in a public action organized by Movimiento Cosecha, aimed at holding the Biden administration accountable for "broken promises and insufficient action" for undocumented immigrants on his 100th day in office.

Undocumented immigrants traveled to Washington, D.C. from across the U.S. to take part in the demonstration, risking arrest and potential deportation. The protesters who were arrested were other community members who attended the action in solidarity, Movimiento Cosecha told Common Dreams. 

The demonstrators blocked traffic for six hours before the arrests began at the "Papers Not Crumbs" protest, where Movimiento Cosecha called on President Joe Biden to take urgent action to protect all 11 million undocumented people in the U.S., rather than focusing on passing "piecemeal legislation." 

On Wednesday, the president called on lawmakers to pass legislation protecting undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children; to extend Temporary Protected Status to immigrants from countries that have experienced "man-made and natural-made violence and disaster"; and to establish a pathway to citizenship for immigrant farmworkers.

"How about everyone else? They've also been contributing to this country," Gema Lowe, an undocumented immigrant and organizer with Movimiento Cosecha, told The Hill. 

Hector Morales, an undocumented immigrant who lives in Indiana, also risked arrest, which could potentially trigger deporation proceedings, in order to fight for his community.

"Undocumented immigrants have been waiting for decades for a pathway to citizenship. We refuse to let history repeat itself and sit on the sidelines, accepting promises from Democrats at face value."
—Movimiento Cosecha

"The current legislation the Democrats are pushing only focuses on a small portion of undocumented immigrants," said Morales in a statement. "Even though I would qualify under the current Dream and Promise Act, I am risking arrest today to tell President Biden that I won't accept piecemeal bills that exclude and criminalize my own community members. I won't accept these crumbs. We need permanent protection for all."

Allies including Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK, attended the protest in solidarity with undocumented immigrants.

"No human is illegal!" tweeted CODEPINK. "We joined courageous undocumented immigrants and fellow comrades in D.C. today to protest Joe Biden's failure to adequately address the U.S.'s broken and corrupt immigration system."

Lowe noted that before Biden took office, he said he planned to send a legislative package to Congress which would include a pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants. 

"Now he is ready to pursue a 'piecemeal' strategy instead that would exclude me and millions of others who have lived in this country for decades," said Lowe. "We deserve better. That is why today I am willing to risk arrest, detention, and deportation to demand papers, not crumbs."

On Saturday, Movimiento Cosecha is planning another mobilization of undocumented people across the country "to demand permanent protection, dignity, and respect."

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