More than 80 arrested in protest over plight of ‘Dreamer’ immigrants

World Today

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 17: Jewish activists protesting for passage of a clean DACA bill stage a sit-in on Capitol Hill on January 17, 2018 in Washington, DC. Democrats and Republicans continue to negotiate over various proposals as a government shutdown looms on January 19. ( Tasos Katopodis/AFP)

Eighty-two people were arrested at a sit-in protest in the U.S. Congress.

They were trying to pressure lawmakers into protecting the children of illegal immigrants in the United States.

CGTN’s Owen Fairclough was there.

They came by the hundreds for a peaceful takeover of the U.S. Congress – a Jewish-led coalition arrested trying to protect the children of illegal immigrants from being deported after President Trump scrapped the program allowing them to stay.

Rabbi Scott Perlow shouted as he was taken into a police van outside the Senate Russell Building: “My grandfather was an immigrant to this country and when he came here he didn’t have papers.”

Another rabbi added: “I feel strongly that God and history demands that I be here.”

The future of some 800,000 undocumented young people is at stake under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program – whose beneficiaries are called “Dreamers.”

“I need a Clean Dream Act to be passed in order for me to have permanent residency and citizenship so that I can stay here, work here and contribute to the country.”

Reinforced by young people chanting above them in the Rotunda of the Senate Building, the hard core of protesters sitting down began to dwindle quickly as police moved in with wrist restraints to lead them away,” Jungwo Kim, who settled in Los Angeles as an undocumented immigrant from South Korea, said.

The protesters arrested here today are in a race against time.

They’re trying to pressure lawmakers into working some kind of solution for the Dreamers into a federal spending plan that’s aimed at avoiding a government shutdown.

And the deadline for that is on Friday 19 January.

So far Republicans haven’t factored the Dreamers into their spending plans – though centrist Senator Lindsey Graham said: “We’re not going to leave 800,000 people out in the cold with no place to go.”

And yet as lawmakers remain deadlocked, these young people hope the icy weather that followed them into this protest isn’t an omen.