‘Undocumented, unafraid.’: DACA recipients storm the U.S. Capitol

Washington Post – by Perry Stein

They ditched school and marched to Capitol Hill en masse, then filled four floors of balconies in the vast atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building. Silent at first, fists raised in the air, they soon erupted into bellowing chants that echoed through the massive marble-clad room.

“Dream Act. Dream Act.”

“Si se puede. Si se puede.”

The demonstration Thursday involving high school and college students from the Washington region and beyond was the latest attempt by undocumented immigrants and their advocates to keep Congress focused on their plight.  

In September, President Trump announced he would kill the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which grants work permits and deportation protection to nearly 700,000 illegal immigrants brought here as children.

If Congress does not pass legislation to replace the program, work permits will begin expiring in March.

Competing bills have been proposed to offer DACA recipients a path to citizenship, and a group of Republican lawmakers held a news conference Thursday to urge action on that legislation this year. The Republican leadership — consumed with plans to cut taxes — has said no vote is likely before January.

“It’s been two months since DACA has been rescinded, and we have no solution yet,” said Bruna Bouhid, communications manager for United We Dream, the organization that helped plan Thursday’s protest. “Immigrant youth are honestly fed up, and they are tired of waiting.”

A protester hoists a sign outside the Capitol. (Astrid Riecken/For The Washington Post)

Student protesters on Thursday. (Astrid Riecken/For The Washington Post)

Students wore orange shirts that said “Clean Dream Act,” a reference to legislation that would offer a path to citizenship without adding tough new anti-immigration measures.

They came from local schools including Woodrow Wilson High School in Northwest Washington, Gaithersburg High School in suburban Maryland, Georgetown University, Trinity Washington University and more.

Groups also traveled from states as far as Washington and Arkansas. Kristina Saccone, a spokeswoman for D.C. Public Schools, said the protest was not a sanctioned school event, and students who participated received unexcused early dismissals.

“My parents were hesitant to let me come, but I insisted that this is an important cause and they came around,” said Gissel Bonilla, a sophomore at School Without Walls in Washington whose parents are from El Salvador. “Something needs to be done.”

A U.S. Capitol Police officer used a megaphone to warn the crowd it is illegal to demonstrate in the building. “Stop chanting if you do not intend to be arrested,” the officer said.

Most people became quiet and raised their fists in the air, but a handful of protesters continued their refrain.

Eva Malecki, a spokeswoman for U.S. Capitol Police, said 15 people were arrested, all of them adults.

Martin Martinez, a 24-year-old DACA recipient from Spokane, Washington, said he came to Capitol Hill to fight for his future. He immigrated from Mexico with his family when he was 8, and now attends college and works as a field organizer for United We Dream.

“I consider this country my country,” Martinez said. “DACA gave me the opportunity to feel safe and provide for myself and my family. That power that I have been given to help myself and my community is at stake.”

The protest inside the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building. (Astrid Riecken/For The Washington Post)

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) stood with some of his staff in the corner of the Hart Senate Building watching the protest unfold early Thursday afternoon. He said it was a powerful display, and he wants to vote for a clean Dream Act as soon as possible.

“We need to just get Ryan to put something on the floor so we can vote on it,” Ellison said, a reference to Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.).

On Wednesday, Kirstjen Nielsen, President Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security was asked about DACA recipients during her confirmation hearing.

Nielsen said participants in the program would not be an enforcement priority for Immigration and Customs Enforcement if Congress fails to act, an assurance that drew criticism from anti-immigration groups on social media.

She also told Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), one of the administration’s fiercest critics, the government would not use personal information it has compiled through the program to track down individuals whose DACA permits expire and deport them.

No matter. The young protesters who came to the Senate a day later said they would not stop demonstrating until Congress passed firm legislation.

As they exited the Hart building Thursday, again with their fists raised, they chanted once again.

“Undocumented,” they yelled. “Unafraid.”


15 thoughts on “‘Undocumented, unafraid.’: DACA recipients storm the U.S. Capitol

  1. All that fancy spy stuff and they can’t release poison gas through the air vents and solve a huge national problem?

  2. If a bunch of US citizens did the same thing in a foreign country. They’d be arrested on the spot. Not here. Another reminder of the advancement of population replacement. Right out in the open. Law and order be damned. Wait till these fools see the up and coming draft.

  3. “Immigrant youth are honestly fed up, and they are tired of waiting.”

    You don’t say?!? Well, American Nationals are beyond fed up and more than tired of waiting! We the people have NO obligation to reward the children of criminals who invaded our country and broke our laws.

  4. This headline gave me a weird, troubling chill down my spine. Feel like I’m being bossed around by an out-of-control mob. They’re making demands and demanding results. And at the Capitol, no less!! The Capitol!! I’m sure nothing happens there organically, but rather with great planning and a great sense of delight. To me it feels sadistic.



  5. How easy it is to just round them up and send them home. THEY ARE ALL RIGHT THERE!!! ARREST THEM, GET RID OF THEM!!! THEY ARE ILLEGAL!!! CRIMINALS! FELONS!!! WTF!!!!

    GRR!!! It just makes my blood boil.

  6. Young people who believe the system will not work for them are a DANGER , perhaps You know one who that is a citizen and feel an affinity towards athis young group of millions.
    “ Lock em up “ would be better applied to our leaders that allowed this situation to occur.
    This is but one faction of a society ,ours, unraveling as it has no problem gutting a system that has failed them.
    Hey beautiful people “ were only dancing on this earth for a short while “

    1. Middle age people and older people are the danger, as we understand what invasion looks like. And we will remove the invaders in the hardest way. And we will make an example of them so that it will be understood that this is our country that we will leave to our progeny, if we have to kill every mother f#@ker in the third world to do it.
      This treasonous occupation accommodated the invasion, but don’t pretend that these foreign mother f#@kers don’t know exactly what they are doing.
      This country belongs to us and we will not only repel the invaders, but we will punish their people for thinking they could come here and take from us. Perhaps a generation in slavery to make up to us what has been stolen from us would settle the account. Anybody thinks to the contrary, well I see you on the battlefield.

        1. Good morning, brother.
          I do believe an earthquake is too subtle. When this calm breaks, it is going to rain hell.

    2. You being a “citizen” is your first mistake, as you feel you owe loyalty to a government. It’s not our government and they haven’t allowed it, they have been COMPLICIT in its execution. Having trust in government that disregards its own People and facilitates an invasion may be what you call your government, and that makes you one of the enemy. Go vote, idiot.

    OUT CHASING SOME BEDOUIN CAMEL HUMPER FOR ISRAHELL??????????????????????????????????????

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