WASHINGTON, D.C. – Nearly 200 immigrant advocates were arrested in a civil disobedience protest Wednesday after demonstrators descended on the nation’s capitol to urge Congress to pass legislation providing permanent protections for immigrants at imminent risk of deportation.
Sparked by federal inaction on a legislative solution to legalize some undocumented immigrants, the “Defend our Immigrant Communities” Day of Action comprised of various rallies and protests throughout the country. In Washington, D.C., which saw the biggest showing of hundreds of demonstrators, advocates visited congressional offices to ask for support for DREAM Act, a federal bill that would grant an eventual pathway to citizenship for 2.1 million undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children.
Faith leaders, immigrants, and allies were among the 200 or so arrested people at the Capitol after calling on lawmakers to protected undocumented youths. “We’re willing to risk arrest, we’re willing to call out to those people in power that we can no longer wait-no more family separation, no more deportation. Pass the Dream Act now. Keep TPS. Keep our families protected. Keep our communities united.”
Since 2012, the federal government has granted temporary work authorization and deportation relief in two-year increments to almost 800,000 undocumented immigrants through the the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
In their call to action, advocates are asking lawmakers to pass the DREAM Act of 2017, which grants legal status to undocumented immigrants who came to the country and are able to prove that they have been in the United States for at least four years before the bill’s enactment, were younger than 18 years old when they entered the country, have passed criminal and security background checks, and fulfilled educational requirements, among other qualifications.