Seven DREAMers and an ally were arrested in Washington, D.C., on Friday after participating in a sit-in advocating for a clean DREAM Act. The activists are currently being held in police custody and have initiated a hunger strike they say will remain active until Democrats make space for a clean DREAM Act in the congressional spending budget.
The demonstration puts these activists in a race against a narrowing deadline.
If you're reading this, I have been arrested in Washington, D.C. and will refuse to leave jail until @SenSchumer and @RepCurbelo publicly confirm that they have whipped the votes to block any spending bill that does not include a Clean Dream Act. #NoDreamNoDeal
— Belén Sisa (@belensisaw) December 16, 2017
The seven activists, who call themselves the #Dream7, were arrested at the D.C. offices of New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer and Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo. They were charged for occupying the building outside regular business hours, which is regarded as unlawful entry. The group had initiated a sit-in and demanded that the lawmakers pass a clean DREAM Act by the federal spending budget deadline of December 22nd.
Since their Friday arrest, the group has refused to provide their names and fingerprints.
They’ve withheld personal information from law enforcement in an effort to remain in jail and continue their protests until their demands (and the demands of thousands of others) have been met. The participating DREAMers have all put their status in this country on the line, and are now at risk of being detained and deported. In one video taken just before their arrest, one of the participants, named Belén Sisa, told viewers that every day they spend in jail puts them closer to an arrest by ICE and deportation.
Anticipating their arrest, the protesters prepared statements concerning the goals of their demonstration.
Cata is a 20-year-old immigrant living in Florida.
In her written statement, published on Fightforourdream.org, she explains the pains that she has been through after losing her DACA eligibility.
“I have to take matters into my own hands,” Cata wrote. “I lost DACA, I lost a portion of my childhood with my parents, I lost the burial of numerous loved ones, I am not willing to lose the resiliency that runs through my veins. As a community, we cannot be spectators of the attacks against us. We must take bold action and show up for each other,”
Belén Sisa is an Argentine activist living in Arizona.
Sisa, a student at Arizona State University, wrote that she took part in this sit-in to give voice to the undocumented and “for those whose future is in the midst of uncertainty.” “If I and seven others can risk it all for something much bigger than ourselves, so can our political leaders who say they support us.”
Barbara is a 25 year old teacher living in California.
“Before there was DACA I always wanted to work a nice job and have the opportunity to shine using my skills,” Barbara wrote. “Once I had DACA I was able to show my skills off and pay taxes and get holidays and weekends to spend with my family, the feeling was amazing.”
Erika Andiola is from Durango, Mexico, and came to the U.S. to flee from domestic violence.
Andiola, an activist and former aid to the Bernie Sanders 2016 election campaign, Erika called those at risk to exercise their “collective power.”
“I am risking arrest today because there are thousands of people who are losing hope, who feel attacked and this is the time for us to model courage and to stand together because that was the only way we were able to win DACA in the first place,” Erika writes in her statement.
Hector is a 26-year-old student at City University of New York from Colombia.
Having been activated into political action earlier this year after seeing the many protests that were sparked after the DACA repeal, Hector wrote about fighting for respect and protection for undocumented youth.
“Let’s uplift each other and create a democracy that values all that live in it,” he wrote.
In September, Donald Trump rescinded DACA, which simultaneously sealed off new applications for the program. The rescission also put renewal applicants whose permits were set to expire between Sept. 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 under a six-month tight time crunch. #Dream7 has remained firm in their decision to stay on a hunger strike until Democrats include the clean DREAM Act in their budget.
The names of the DREAMers used in this story were initially provided by their social accounts and Fightforourdream.org. The full names of the other activists have yet to be formally released. At the time of this story’s publication, mitú reached out to representatives of #Dream7 but has yet to hear back.