Tuesday marked five years since the beginning of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as minors from deportation. But DACA is now under threat from the Donald Trump administration. So protesters, including Congressman Luis Gutierrez, marked the anniversary by getting arrested in front of the White House in protest.
According to data published by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, almost 800,000 individuals have had successful applications for DACA protections since the program began five years ago. But Trump has told reporters that the decision about whether to keep DACA or not will be “difficult to make.” Former Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, who is now Trump’s chief of staff, was unable to promise last month that the administration would protect DACA and its recipients, CNN reported.
After marching through the streets of D.C. in support of DACA, protesters gathered across from the White House. There, they chanted things like “NO DACA, NO PEACE!”; “It is our duty to fight for freedom; it is our duty to win”; “Undocumented; unafraid”; and “The people united will never be divided.”
Meanwhile, over a dozen people people held a sit-in immediately in front of the White House.
One by one, they were escorted away by law enforcement and arrested. Among those arrested were Representative Luis Gutierrez, his spokesperson confirmed to Splinter. The co-executive directors of the Indivisible Guide–an online resource with tips for grassroots activists–were also arrested, according to the organization.
According to Gutierrez’s spokesperson, he was taken into U.S. Park Police custody and expected to be released later this afternoon.
Another one of the protesters, United We Dream advocacy team member Sanaa Abrar, explained in a Twitter video immediately preceding the act of civil disobedience why she was choosing to risk her first arrest:
“Because I’m a U.S. citizen–I got my citizenship in 2009–as someone with a U.S. passport, as someone who is in not harm’s way I am volunteering to get arrested with about 30 or so of my comrades in arms to call attention to the fact that we need to keep DACA and TPS in place,” she said on a video on Twitter. “I am doing this for the 11 million undocumented in this country. I’m doing this for my colleagues and co-workers. I’m doing this to reach out to all the other little brown girls out there who feel like they’re alone and that they don’t have anybody, to show them that we are all together in this, that there is a community here fighting for you.”
On social media, users shared why they wanted lawmakers to #DefendDACA:
Although ICE’s acting director has claimed that the agency prioritizes deporting undocumented people with criminal records, he has also maintained that he believes all undocumented people in the U.S. should be “uncomfortable” and “worried.” Last month, a disgruntled officer revealed the agency’s plans to target younger undocumented immigrants. The Trump administration deported its first DACA recipient in April.
I have reached out to the United States Park Police for comment on the arrests, including who was arrested and on what grounds. I’ll update if we hear back.