Dozens of immigration rights activists were arrested at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington on Wednesday as part of a massive act of civil disobedience carried out to demand action to protect DACA recipients.
According to a statement posted by the progressive Jewish organization Bend the Arc, 86 out of more than 100 protesters were arrested, while groups of undocumented youth affiliated with the United We Dream immigration rights group visited individual senators’ offices throughout the day.
Singing progressive songs and spirituals, the protesters were quietly cuffed and removed from the floor where they sat between banners reading “Pass the DREAM Act Now,” and “Let My People Stay.”
At the same time, undocumented activists wearing orange knit caps occupied the offices of Republican congressmen Pete Sessions and John Culberson and Democratic Senator Tim Kaine, among others. There the protesters sat and described what it’s like to live in the United States under threat of deportation to a country they’ve never known.
Wednesday’s coordinated action comes as Congress faces a potential government shutdown, in part over whether or not it will act to protect DACA recipients. According to a draft of a bipartisan Senate immigration deal published on Tuesday night, congressional Republicans would get massive concessions—including nearly $3 billion for “border security”—in exchange for shielding potential DREAM Act beneficiaries.
“As Jews, we recognize the dangers of President Trump’s inhumane policies and scapegoating of immigrants — we’ve seen this before,” Bend the Arc wrote in an open letter that accompanied their protest. “We stand with our immigrant neighbors on the side of justice, not oppression, of liberation, not deportation.”