Seven undocumented immigrants and one ally were arrested Friday evening following a protest at Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Carlos Curbelo’s offices. The young immigrants, also known as Dreamers, staged the sit-ins to demand that the lawmakers vote down any spending bill that leaves out a clean DREAM Act. The #Dream7, as they call themselves, have been in jail since Friday and plan to remain on a hunger strike until Sen. Schumer and Rep. Curbelo confirm that they have the necessary votes to block a spending bill without the DREAM Act.
The final hours of the sit-in were captured on video by act.tv.
Erika Andiola, a former press secretary for Bernie Sanders, and a longtime advocate for the undocumented community, is one of the seven who were arrested on charges of unlawful entry for staying beyond the open hours of the Senate building. Andiola said the following in a video posted on Facebook this morning:
“Every day that we are in police custody the danger of additional ICE engagement and then deportation grows, as it grows for all undocumented youth with each day that goes by without passage of the Dream Act.”
The eight who were arrested refused to give their names to police or provide fingerprints as a way to stay in jail and continue to draw attention to their cause.
Senator Schumer has yet to issue a public announcement in response to the Dreamers, but Rep. Cuberlo has released the following statement:
“The Congressman is committed to finding a bipartisan solution for the DACA population. He’s pledged to withhold his support for any spending past Dec. 31 until action is taken on a solution. These young immigrants are contributing to our economy and society all across the country in local communities, like South Florida. They’ve lived in fear for far too long and it is past-time leadership in both Chambers allow a solution to come to the floor.”
The DREAM Act stands for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, and puts eligible undocumented minors on a path to become U.S. citizens. It was first introduced in the Senate in 2001 and has failed to pass several times.
A “clean” version of the act would leave out increased immigration enforcement money or funds for border protection.
Congress must reach a decision on the spending bill by December 22 to avoid a government shutdown.