With their lives in limbo and with congressional inaction, undocumented youth take part in civil disobedience to call on the community to take a fight to their districts and to Capitol Hill.
Washington, D.C – On December 7, 2017 at about 2:00 pm, immigrant youth and allies gathered in Emancipation Hall at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center to demand permanent protection for undocumented youth. Eight DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients and allies were arrested at the demonstration, which saw activists travel from as far as New York and California to call on Congress to pass a Dream Act as part of the omnibus spending bill.
Staging their own mock Congressional hearing, protesters shared “testimonies” of why they were there and led a crowd chanting “No Dream, No Deal” and “Undocumented and Unafraid.” The 8 DACA recipients and allies participating in the civil disobedience then began a sit-in and occupied Emancipation Hall for approximately 20 minutes before being arrested and removed from the Capitol.
“After President Trump ended DACA, the program that provided temporary protection for Dreamers, I knew I had to take a stand. The end of DACA puts me, my family, and 800,000 Dreamers at risk of deportation. I will no longer stay silent – I can’t afford to stay silent about my undocumented status,” said Piash Ahamed, an organizer with the Seed Project originally from Bangladesh whose DACA expires in August 2018 without opportunity for renewal. “That is why I was arrested in Washington, D.C. as a volunteer for the #OurDream campaign,” he added. “Like so many leaders in our nation’s history such as Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, I am taking a stand for what I believe is right. We must pass the Dream Act before the end of the year as part of the spending bill.”
Since reports earlier this year that the White House might use DACA recipients as a “bargaining chip” to secure funding for a border wall and legislation targeting other undocumented immigrants, youth activists have doubled down on their commitment to fight for a “clean” Dream Act. “I am doing this for our undocumented community and the ones who are still in the shadows. It is time for a clean Dream Act without having to compromise our family. We are undocumented and unafraid,” said Diana Concepcion Gomez Moran, another DACA recipient arrested at the Capitol.
This protest follows over 30 local #OurDream actions and sit-ins across the country this week also demanding that members of Congress commit to vote against any year-end spending bill that does not include protection for Dreamers.
After the Capitol protest, dozens of immigrants and allies with the Seed Project and #OurDream participated in a sit-in at Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office. In response to news of a meeting this afternoon between Sen. Schumer, President Trump, Sen. Nancy Pelosi, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, protesters urged the Senate Minority Leader to not “negotiate away the humanity of immigrants.” Three DACA recipients and allies were arrested, occupying the office and again chanting “No Dream, No Deal” until they were removed by police.
“We wanted to let Schumer know that we will hold him accountable, that we will hold the Democrats accountable,” said Juan Carlos Carabantes, a DACA recipient who attended the sit-in and cheered on the three activists who were arrested. “They say they support us, they want to seem like progressive leaders, but they are putting our lives and community at risk by not taking a stand.”
Fightforourdream.org The #OurDream campaign is a coalition effort led by undocumented youth that includes: The Seed Project, Our Revolution, Youth Caucus of America, Democracy Spring, Progressive Democrats of America, Justice Democrats, Presente.org, Good Jobs Nation, Millennials for Revolution, Undocumented, Students for Education Equity, Democratic Socialist of America (NYC), The People’s Consortium for Economic and Human Rights, Inc., Working Families Party, People for Bernie, Women’s March, Common, Defense PAC/Vets Against Hate, Action Group Network, Million Hoodies