12:44 GMT +321 August 2019
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    DACA recipients stage sit-in

    DACA Recipients Take Over Democratic Senator's Office, Demand ‘Clean DREAM Act'

    © Screenshot/Erika Andiola
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    On Friday, seven Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients risked arrest and deportation when they staged a sit-in in the office of Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer with the hopes of getting the 67-year-old politician to say he would block any spending bill that doesn't include a "clean DREAM Act."

    The move taken by the DACA recipients could result in their arrest and potentially their deportation from the US, as DACA status may only be requested by those who "have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor,or three or more other misdemeanors," among other restrictions.

    Three DACA recipients and an "ally" were arrested outside of Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo's office Friday evening. A separate sit-in was also being staged outside of the Miami politician's office.

    ​The Dream Act, first proposed in 2003, is a bill that would grant a conditional green card to all current DACA recipients and create a system for undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children to apply for permanent residency and, ultimately, citizenship.

    Though former US President Barack Obama signed the DACA executive order in 2012 to provide undocumented youths with some relief from deportation, the move was temporary and insufficient, activists say. The Dream Act, however, would provide a permanent solution for DACA applicants by way of a path to citizenship.

    ​The goal of the protesters, essentially, is to get members of Congress who previously expressed support for the cause to actually "live up their word."

    "Democratic leadership and Republicans who claimed to support Dreamers have a choice," Erika Andiola, one of the DACA recipients participating in the sit-in, said in a statement. "They either fight to secure the votes needed to block any spending bill that doesn't include a clean DREAM Act, or they chose to keep us in jail at risk of deportation."

    ​"Some say that we can wait to pass legislation that would provide permanent protection until the March deadline, but every day the Dream Act does not pass, undocumented youth are at risk of detention and deportation," Cata Santiago, another participant, said in a statement. "We are not just losing our DACA, we are at risk of losing our families, our jobs, and the only place we have ever called home."

    "So we are choosing to make this deep sacrifice and risk detention and deportation now as a call to action to the nation and all who believe that we belong in this country: we need the Dream Act now! And we need all who support us to do whatever it takes and use whatever power they have to secure it," Santiago added.

    Though political leaders such as Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stood closely with the #ProtectDreamers initiative at one point, the situation changed December 7 when Congress passed the "Continuing Resolution," says the group.

    When the resolution to extend funding for the federal government was passed, it was missing something — the DREAM Act. This was a move that the DACA recipients called an "effective vote to deport Dreamers."

    As officials are expected to regroup and agree on a spending package by December 22, it's unclear whether Democrats will indeed fight for the Dreamers, considering Pelosi, when previously asked how far Democrats would go for Dreamers, put it bluntly by stating that they're "not willing to shut government down."

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