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Congressional Democrats arrested during DACA protest at Trump Tower

Reps. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito were arrested outside of Trump Tower on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, after staging a sit-in that blocked traffic on Fifth Avenue. They joined immigration activists in calling for President Donald Trump to renew the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that shields eligible minors and young adults from deportation. (Credit: Newsday / Laura Figueroa)

Three congressional Democrats and the head of the New York City Council were among 10 demonstrators arrested Tuesday in front of Trump Tower during a protest of President Donald Trump’s rollback of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

House members Adriano Espaillat, who represents portions of upper Manhattan and the South Bronx; Luis Gutiérrez of Illinois, and Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona, were taken into custody shortly after 12:40 p.m.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and a handful of protesters from the immigrant activist group, Make the Road New York, were also arrested.

The demonstrators were charged with disorderly conduct, obstructing traffic and refusal to disperse, said an NYPD spokeswoman. They were released from NYPD custody at about 7 p.m. Tuesday, she said.

The rally was held outside the president’s Fifth Avenue skyscraper to call attention to the expiring Obama-era program, also known as DACA, which has shielded from deportation thousands of immigrant students and young adults brought to the United States illegally as minors.

“The lives of 800,000 young people, and 11 million hardworking immigrants are on the line,” Espaillat said, referring to the thousands of so-called Dreamers protected by DACA, and the millions of others living in the U.S. without legal status.

The demonstration coincided with Trump’s return to Manhattan for the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

The protesters — including dozens chanting “DACA yes! Raids no!” as they rallied on the sidewalk — urged Trump and the Republican-controlled House and Senate to renew DACA and offer those enrolled a path to citizenship.

“We have to protect our immigrant communities,” Mark-Viverito said, arguing that Trump’s immigration agenda “is ripping families apart.”

On Sept. 13, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said they had reached a deal with Trump to revive DACA in exchange for Democrats’ support of increased border security funding. Both lawmakers insisted the increased funding would not include money for Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

White House officials said no deal was reached.

Protesters argued on Tuesday that any deal on DACA should not include increased immigration enforcement funding, because the president’s immigration crackdown has unfairly deported many who have routinely checked in with immigration authorities and do not have criminal records.

“Democrats and Republicans need to stand up for DREAMers . . . without adding a single dollar to Trump’s deportation agenda,” said Kica Matos, an organizer with the group Fair Immigration Reform Movement.


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