Two congressional candidates running to unseat Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan were arrested for blocking an intersection near Ryan’s office in Racine, WI, on Monday in an act of civil disobedience.
Randy Bryce and Cathy Myers were among 24 protesters who were arrested. They were calling on Ryan to bring a “clean DREAM Act” to a vote in the House—a reference to legislation that offers young immigrants a path to citizenship without funding for a border wall and increased border and interior enforcement.
In the days before the Trump administration rescinded the DACA program, Ryan said Congress should find a solution for young undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. without the fear of deportation. But local activists have criticized him for instead aligning with some of the White House’s most controversial immigration proposals.
Last year, Ryan defended President Donald Trump’s executive order banning new arrivals from Muslim-majority countries. And more recently, he declared that the House will only consider immigration bills that have President Trump’s support.
“It’s a dangerous time, and it’s important that he’s getting called out,” Christine Neumann-Ortiz, director of the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera, which helped organize Monday’s protest, told Splinter.
If Ryan actually moved to back immigrants, he would find plenty of support at home. The most recent Marquette University poll found 76% of Wisconsin Republican voters support a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants who grew up in the U.S. That’s a higher rate even than the national average of 74%.
The Marquette poll also found 12% of Republican voters support keeping young immigrants in the US without citizenship. That means a combined 88% of Republicans favor keeping DACA recipients in the country. (The poll found 94% of Wisconsin Democrats support a path to citizenship for young immigrants.)
Neumann-Ortiz said the congressional candidates’ decision to participate in the civil disobedience action showed courage and was meaningful for participants in the youth-organized protest.
“There’s a real appetite here for elected officials who are much more [bold] and who can forcefully set the terms of the debate,” she said.
Bryce and Myers will face off in the August Democratic primary. The winner will then challenge Ryan in the November election.