More than two dozen young immigrants and their allies were arrested on Thursday after carrying out an act of civil disobedience in response to a conservative appeals court ruling this week that upheld a lower court decision last year finding the successful and popular Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program unlawful.
Fifteen were arrested after blocking traffic in front of a U.S. Senate building in Washington, D.C. Many of the 100 protesting that day were DACA recipients who have endured years of anxiety and uncertainty due to GOP-led litigation continuing to challenge the policy despite a major win at the Supreme Court in 2020. They gathered in Washington “to demand a bold and robust response to the crisis with DACA,” a release received by Daily Kos said.
“We cannot keep living from court case to court case and in two-year increments,” said Bruna Sollod, senior communications and political director of immigrant youth-led United We Dream. “We are demanding permanent solutions now because we know what’s possible. It is time for Congress to deliver on their promises.”
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“I have had DACA for 10 years now, since the Obama administration brought the program to life,” said Cindy Kolade, a member of immigrant group CASA. She said she took time off from her job at a hospital to protest a decision that, if Republicans continue their winning streak with right-wing judges, could ultimately take away her work permit and deportation relief.
“I am extremely upset about the decision made yesterday and today took time away from the essential work I perform at a hospital to participate in an action with CASA and UWD to make sure Congress hears our voices,” she continued. “We are here to stay and will keep fighting as we have been for so long.”
Luz Chavez “said she joined the rally because she was tired of perpetually ‘feeling in limbo,’” ABC News reported. She told the outlet that after fleeing political violence in Bolivia, the U.S. is the only place that’s felt like home. “I started school here, and I started elementary school and went to college here,” she said in the report. She’s not alone, because numerous surveys over the years have shown that DACA has had life-changing effects on young immigrants, from better employment opportunities to better accessibility to higher education to becoming homeowners to making recipients feel like they finally “belong in the U.S.”
Republicans are trying to take this away through a stacked anti-immigrant judicial pipeline. “The pipeline flows from Republican Attorneys General to hand-picked United States District Court Judges (usually Trump appointees in Texas), to the conservative Fifth Circuit and finally, to the United States Supreme Court,” immigration group America’s Voice previously said. This particular case, launched by corrupt Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, is now at the Fifth Circuit level.
“We need Congress to act on citizenship now, so we no longer have to live in fear and can continue to prosper in this country we call home,” Kolade continued. “Oui nous pouvons!" The release said young immigrants and allies from Firm Action, National Immigration Law Center, Congregation Action Network, The Immigration Hub, and Immigrants Rising were also part of the protest.
President Joe Biden previously slammed the appeals court decision, saying in a statement that it was “long past time for Congress to pass permanent protections for Dreamers, including a pathway to citizenship.” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas similarly called for legislative relief and said the administration was “currently reviewing the court’s decision and will work with the Department of Justice on an appropriate legal response.”
In his statement, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Republicans to join Democrats in passing relief. But they’ve had more than enough time to do so. Not only have they had more than enough time to vote on, say, the Dream and Promise Act passed by the House last year, Republicans are the ones suing to kill DACA.
"Republican leaders are using the same playbook with DACA that was used with abortion, which is to end the protections offered by DACA through an increasingly rightward shifting court," Immigration Hub Executive Director Sergio Gonzales told ABC News. "And we now are on the precipice of that actually happening." This is on Congress now.
“Over the past ten years, DACA has enabled us to become essential workers through the pandemic, caretakers for families (both biological and chosen), and integral parts of our communities,” said Denia Pérez, legal services manager at Immigrants Rising. “At the same time, many more have been excluded from DACA and have been unable to benefit from its protections. We’ve witnessed failed attempts at creating a pathway for DACA recipients and their families and it is long past due for Congress to take meaningful action to provide them with a pathway to citizenship.”
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