Politics & Policy

DREAMers Protest On Capitol Hill

United We Dream demands the expansion of Deferred Action.

United We Dream, a youth organization focused on immigration issues, protested Congress Friday, as another congressional session ended without progress for President Obama’s pet issue of immigration reform.

Dreamers picketed outside the offices of House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio), Congressman Darrell Issa (R., California), and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s offices (D., Florida). The group, which claims to represent children of illegal immigrants, sang “We Shall Overcome” outside of the representatives’ offices while demanding Congress push Obama to end the deportation of illegal immigrants. 

The Obama administration occasionally claims to have substantially increased deportation of illegals, but this claim is disputed by limited-immigration activists who say the new figure is produced by reclassifying activities, not by tighter border enforcement.

But the protesters on Capitol Hill were taking Obama at his word, saying that many children of illegals are undocumented themselves. The Dreamers wore shirts that read “Obama Deports Parents” and had their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) cards in hand.

Issa, whose office was the first stop on the group’s protest, recently began circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter asking other members to support the termination of DACA, which is a temporary promise from the federal government that illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children will not be deported in the near future. Outside of Issa’s office, DREAMers hummed and talked about their immigration issues.

“Republicans… are not on our side,” one of the organizers of the group, a woman named Greisa, shouted.

“We’re here to tell Representative Issa that he can send whatever letters he wants,” she told National Review Online. “He can say all these hateful comments… but we are here to fight. We have won before and we will win again.”

Another protester emerged from Issa’s office and claimed that the congressman’s immigration staffer “can’t even spend a minute to talk with us,” adding, “no one in their office can speak to the congressman’s position.” 

Issa’s office later confirmed to National Review Online that staffers had spoken with the group “for nearly an hour.” An Issa spokesman said the protesters “asked questions and shared their views about immigration reform as well as DACA.” 

In front of Speaker Boehner’s office, the DREAMers unfurled a wall-sized “lawsuit” against Boehner in front of the congressman’s closed doors.

“Our community is holding him accountable for… his inability to deliver on comprehensive immigration reform,” Greisa declared.

Despite the vitriol against the Republicans, the group also stopped by Democratic Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz’s office. “We know that this is the time for Congresswoman Schultz to come out and call on her party leader… and say ‘Stop deportations and expand deferred action.’ We need that now and we cannot wait any longer,” another representative announced. The group has a history with the congresswoman, who is the head of the Democratic National Committee. Earlier this month, they protested outside of her South Florida office, asking for her to take a stronger stance on the immigration issue. Congresswoman Schultz’s staff met with representatives from the group as well, despite the fact that the DREAMers claimed that she “continues to ignore us.”

— Christine Sisto is an editorial associate at National Review Online.

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