Thousands of people demonstrated outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday to demand congress take action and protect DACA recipients—nearly 200 people were arrested in an act of civil disobedience after refusing to disperse.
House Representatives Judy Chu of California and Luis Gutiérrez of Illinois were among those arrested outside the Capitol. Chu was certainly prepared to be arrested, she tweeted a picture of her “civil disobedience starter kit” before the demonstration:
“Our ask is simple: let us vote on the DREAM Act so we can do the right thing for our families, our communities, and our economy,” Chu said in a statement on Wednesday evening.
Gutiérrez, who has been an outspoken advocate for young undocumented immigrants, was also arrested at the demonstration:
Congress has continued to drag its feet on protecting some 700,000 people who have been living and working in the U.S. under the Obama-era DACA program that Trump ended three months ago. The White House set a deadline of March, 2018, for DACA’s protections to expire—undocumented immigrants whose permits expire after March 5, 2018, were not allowed to reapply for protections.
Activists on Wednesday emphasized the necessity for swift action as thousands of people face an uncertain fate—and possibly deportation—when their permits expire in the new year. Democrats have demanded that legislation protecting DACA recipients be included in the budget, though its unclear if they are willing to shutdown the government over its inclusion.
In recent weeks, Donald Trump has suggested that a government shutdown might make him look tougher on immigration. Despite announcing a deal with Trump over DACA, Democrats have yet to secure its passage as part of the government funding plan. On Wednesday, Trump threatened a government shutdown and attempted to blame the Democrats for wanting “to have illegal immigrants, in many cases people that we don’t want in our country.”
Urgency, Gutiérrez told reporters outside the Capitol, is imperative. “There will be no tolerance [for delay],” he said. “That would be an act of betrayal. You can’t do it—it’s got to be this year.”