‘Undocumented, unafraid.’: DACA recipients storm the U.S. Capitol


Hundreds of scholars and activists from the Washington, D.C., space urged Congress on Nov. 9 to move a clear Dream Act invoice earlier than the top of the yr. (Astrid Riecken/The Washington Post)

They ditched faculty and marched to Capitol Hill en mbade, then crammed 4 flooring of balconies within the huge atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building. Silent at first, fists raised within the air, they quickly erupted into bellowing chants that echoed via the large marble-clad room.

“Dream Act. Dream Act.”

“Si se puede. Si se puede.”

The demonstration Thursday involving highschool and school college students from the Washington area and past was the most recent try by undocumented immigrants and their advocates to maintain Congress centered on their plight.

[‘We are America’: DACA recipients say they aren’t going anyplace]

In September, President Trump introduced he would kill the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which grants work permits and deportation safety to just about 700,00zero unlawful immigrants introduced right here as kids.

If Congress can’t move laws to switch this system, work permits will start expiring in March.

Competing payments have been proposed to supply DACA recipients a path to citizenship, and a bunch of Republican lawmakers held a information convention Thursday to induce motion on that laws this yr. The Republican management — consumed with plans to chop taxes — has mentioned no vote is probably going earlier than January.

“It’s been two months since DACA has been rescinded, and we have no solution yet,” mentioned Bruna Bouhid, communications supervisor for United We Dream, the group that helped plan Thursday’s protest. “Immigrant youth are honestly fed up, and they are tired of waiting.”

A protester hoists an indication exterior the Capitol. (Astrid Riecken/For The Washington Post)

Students wore orange shirts that mentioned “Clean Dream Act,” a reference to laws that will provide a path to citizenship with out including powerful new anti-immigration measures.

They got here from native colleges together with Woodrow Wilson High School in Northwest Washington, Gaithersburg High School in suburban Maryland, Georgetown University, Trinity Washington University and extra.

Groups additionally traveled from states so far as Washington and Arkansas. Kristina Saccone, a spokeswoman for D.C. Public Schools, mentioned the protest was not a sanctioned faculty occasion, and college students who participated acquired unexcused early dismissals.

[White House pressured DHS to expel Hondurans, officers say]

“My parents were hesitant to let me come, but I insisted that this is an important cause and they came around,” mentioned Gissel Bonilla, a sophomore at School Without Walls in Washington whose dad and mom are from El Salvador. “Something needs to be done.”

A U.S. Capitol Police officer used a megaphone to warn the gang it’s unlawful to exhibit within the constructing. “Stop chanting if you do not intend to be arrested,” the officer mentioned.

Most individuals turned quiet and raised their fists within the air, however a handful of protesters continued their chorus.

Eva Malecki, a spokeswoman for U.S. Capitol Police, mentioned 15 individuals had been arrested, all of them had been adults.

Martin Martinez, a 24-year-old DACA recipient from Spokane, Washington, mentioned he got here to Capitol Hill to combat for his future. He immigrated from Mexico along with his household when he was eight, and now attends school and works as a discipline organizer for United We Dream.

“I consider this country my country,” Martinez mentioned. “DACA gave me the opportunity to feel safe and provide for myself and my family. That power that I have been given to help myself and my community is at stake.”

The protest contained in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building. (Astrid Riecken/For The Washington Post)

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) stood with a few of his employees within the nook of the Hart Senate Building watching the protest unfold early Thursday afternoon. He mentioned it was a strong show, and he needs to vote for a clear Dream Act as quickly as doable.

“We need to just get Ryan to put something on the floor so we can vote on it,” Ellison mentioned, a reference to Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.).

On Wednesday, Kirstjen Nielsen, President Trump’s nominee to guide the Department of Homeland Security was requested about DACA recipients throughout her affirmation listening to.

Nielsen mentioned members in this system wouldn’t be an enforcement precedence for Immigration and Customs Enforcement if Congress fails to behave, an badurance that drew criticism from anti-immigration teams on social media.

She additionally advised Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), one of many administration’s fiercest critics, the federal government wouldn’t use private data it has compiled via this system to trace down people whose DACA permits expire and deport them.

No matter. The younger protesters who got here to the Senate a day later mentioned they might not cease demonstrating till Congress handed agency laws.

As they exited the Hart constructing Thursday, once more with their fists raised, they chanted as soon as once more.

“Undocumented,” they yelled. “Unafraid.”

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