Over 200 immigrant-rights activists — including a contingent from New Haven — were arrested at the nation’s Capitol during a nationwide day of protest in support of DREAM Act legislation and a legislative solution for temporary protected status (TPS) holders.
The Center for Community Change (CCC) and CASA in Action organized 40 “Defend Our Immigrant Communities” Day of Action events throughout the country, including a rally at Washington’s Upper Senate Park at noon.
Thousands at the D.C. rally called on Congress to pass legislation to protect “Dreamers” — children of undocumented immigrants —who lost their legal protection in September when President Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
New Haven’s Kica Matos, who heads the Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice projects for the national CCC organization, called it the largest act of civil disobedience in the modern history of the immigrants’ rights movement.
Those arrested Wednesday included university professors, labor leaders, faith leaders, members of Congress, local elected officials, and people directly affected by immigration laws.
Three Yale University professors were among those arrested in D.C. Wednesday on the steps of the U.S. Senate building.
The professors, Alicia Camacho, Zareena Grewal and Daniel HoSang, had this to say about why they took the step, in the following prepared remarks:
Alicia Camacho, professor of American Studies and Ethnicity, Race, and Migration, Yale University:
I am participating in this event because we are at a crucial crossroads for justice in the Americas. The Federal government has withdrawn minimal protections for Haitian migrants living in the United States and threatened to terminate temporary protected status for thousands of others. The threat of deportation is imposing terror on our communities and continues to divide families and shred the social fabric of our neighborhoods, parishes, and workplaces.
To believe, as I do, that migration cannot be a crime, and that immigrants and refugees deserve the same protections and opportunities to live freely, means that I cannot stand by and watch mass deportations continue. I call on our government to recognize the claims of 800,000 young people to full membership in our society. The Dream Act is a vital step toward a more rational and humane immigration policy. We do not only demand protection for vulnerable migrants with this action— we reject the racial logic behind the exclusion and punishment of Muslim, black, indigenous, Asian, and Latino migrants. We know that only humane laws will make our nation safer or stronger.
We live in the age of migration: more people are crossing borders than any other time in human history. And yet this government has committed us to a costly and inhumane system that makes a mockery of our shared values. We need to confront and resist the undemocratic forces that are leading this policy.
I am taking this action for my students, my friends, my coworkers, and my family members, who have always shared the best of themselves with me.
Zareena A. Grewal, associate professor, American Studies, Religious Studies, Ethnicity Race and Migration, Yale University:
In the last few days, this administration has continued to escalate and accelerate their xenophobic militarization of our borders and criminalization and attack on families and the flagrant disregard for the human rights of racial and religious minorities. On Saturday, President Trump pulled the US out of the United Nation’s compact seeking global cooperation to protect the safety and rights of refugees and migrants.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme court has allowed the full enforcement of Trump’s Muslim ban of six mostly majority Muslim countries, which was previously partially blocked by an Appeals court. And around the country, innocent people languish in prisons with the threat of deportation looming over their heads, such as Siham Byah, a single mother and a college student who has been living in the U.S. for 18 years and is on a hunger strike after ICE placed her in custody on Nov. 7 in Massachusetts.
“Her 8-year-old son, who is a citizen, was taken into custody as well. Byah’s long record of political activism and advocacy for social justice in and beyond the Middle East make her vulnerable as a target of the Moroccan government if she is deported and she is seeking political asylum. I stand with Siham Byah and all those innocent people whose bodies and lives are treated as expendable and cheap by their governments.
Daniel Martinez HoSang, associate professor of Ethnicity, Race, Migration and American Studies at Yale University:
I am participating in the action on Dec. 6 because of all that is at stake in this decision; the fate of the Dreamers is the fate of the nation. We have already learned so much from the Dreamers. All of us gain when students can learn and grow. In this time of crisis, we must be opening the doors to our classrooms rather than shutting them down. We are acting on December 6 to demonstrate to the nation that as teachers, we will not leave anyone behind.