WASHINGTON, D.C. — Capitol Police arrested 87 protesters demonstrating in support of an expiring immigration program Monday, authorities told reporters, organized around a symbolic deadline for the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
There were two demonstrations on Capitol Hill. Police say 68 people were arrested in a protest that blocked traffic near the Capitol, at Independence and New Jersey avenues. The protesters there chained themselves together and lay down in the street.
Officers cut off the chains, and took the protesters to waiting police vans. They were charged with “crowding, obstructing or incommoding”; 28 of them were also charged with resisting arrest.
Nineteen others were arrested for a demonstration in the Longworth House Office Building, trying to get into the office of House Speaker Paul Ryan.
The protest on Independence Avenue was peaceful. Capitol Police loaded some of the demonstrators into a police van, and then a second larger vehicle, similar to a shuttle bus, came for the rest. There were between 50 and 60 officers outside with the protesters, some surrounding the center group (who were ultimately arrested) and others keeping the rest of the protesters on the street corners.
The group chanted “Undocumented! Unafraid!” in both English and Spanish.
When the vehicles with those arrested departed, the group returned to the lawn between the Capitol and the Library of Congress, where they had earlier spelled out the word UNAFRAID in tissue paper flowers facing the Capitol.
President Donald Trump ended the DACA policy in September, originally giving Congress a six month window to come up with a solution for what happens to those participants in the program. Multiple federal judges ruled that the justification the Trump administration was using to terminate the program was shaky at best — and ordered the Department of Homeland Security to resume renewing all existing DACA permits. And the Supreme Court declined the administration’s unusual request to leapfrog the appellate courts and consider immediately whether to overrule those decisions. Those court rulings have rendered the so-called deadline largely meaningless, as the program continues indefinitely pending further court action.
Congressional efforts earlier this year to find a legislative solution on immigration have been unable to reach a resolution.