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Protesters Gather in Support of Dream Act, Protection for DACA Recipients

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DACA Protest

Fernando Gutierrez, a Fort Smith resident, talks to a reporter during a protest in front of Sen. Tom Cotton's (R) Springdale office Jan. 18.

Protesters with the Arkansas United Community Coalition gathered outside of Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R) district office in Springdale on Thursday morning to voice their support for the passage of a Dream Act that protects recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and their families.

Approximately 15 protesters arrived at Cotton’s office around 9:30 a.m. Simultaneous demonstrations happened at Cotton’s offices in Little Rock and Washington, D.C., said Humberto Marquez, an organizing director with AUCC and a DACA recipient.

AUCC is a nonprofit organization that seeks to provide political and social support to the immigrant communities of Arkansas, Marquez said.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was an executive order implemented during the Barack Obama administration to protect undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before age 16 and met other criteria, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration website.

 

In July 2017, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) introduced the Dream Act as a bill directing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to provide lawful permanent resident status to immigrants who meet certain conditions, which could protect DACA recipients from deportation, according to the U.S. Congress website.

Protesters gathered at Cotton’s office to show that they oppose Cotton’s refusal to compromise on a version of the Dream Act that grants DACA recipients legal status, said Mireya Reith, the founding member and executive director for AUCC. 

“We’re working for a miracle today,” Reith said to begin her speech at the protest.

Cotton was one of the first senators to publicly announce Jan. 11 that a compromise on the Dream Act would not be possible, Reith said.

“It is disingenuous to discuss providing status to potentially millions of individuals without taking credible steps to truly protect our borders and secure the interior,” Cotton said in a written joint statement with Sens. Chuck Grassley (R) and David Perdue (R) last week. “It simply isn’t credible to consider any ‘deals’ that don’t make it easier to apprehend, detain and deport dangerous criminal aliens.”

Gathering to protest at each of his offices is a way to pressure him into listening to Arkansans’ opinions on this issue, Reith said.

The protest included DACA recipients and allies of the immigrant community, as well as members of the local religious community, Marquez said.

“It’s quite shameful that (Cotton) is very passionate about this issue in the most wrong way possible,” Marquez said. “He needs to meet with the people who are directly affected by this.”

During the protest, Reith announced that Cotton agreed to meet with the AUCC Washington, D.C., team later later that day.

 

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