Activists from across the country showed up at the Texas Capitol in Austin on Wednesday morning to protest against the Trump administration’s recent attacks on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, condemn Texas Senate Bill 4 and demand permanent protection for all 11 million undocumented people in the United States.
The sit-in was organized by Movimiento Cosecha, an organization fighting on behalf of country’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. This is believed to be the first DACA sit-in under Trump’s presidency.
“This is a big step in terms of showing what we can do as undocumented folks to lead this effort to protect our own community,” said Erika Andiola, a well-known immigrant rights activist who was at the Austin protest and later spoke with Latino Rebels via phone.
Among the activists, there were DACA recipients and undocumented young people who risked getting arrested.
There were 15 arrests in total. Four of those arrests are DACA recipients.
The activists sat in the middle of the main street that leads to the Capitol and blocked traffic. They chanted in support of the 11 million undocumented people. “Oye mi gente, traemos la fuerza, la libertad es la única manera,” they shouted.
A few minutes later, Austin police arrived soon and started arresting them.
Miriam was one of the young activists arrested. “This is for my parents, for everyone, for all the 11 million undocumented people who deserve dignity and respect,” she said as she was handcuffed and carried away by police.
According to Movimiento Cosecha, the organizers and activists are aware of the legal consequences and risks, but they believe the city of Austin “is not supposed to transfer arrestees to any ICE detention center,” as Maria Fernanda Cabello, an organizer, told the press after the activists were arrested.
As of now, the 15 arrested individuals have been transferred to the Sheriff’s office. The organizers do not know whether they will be released tonight or tomorrow morning. However, organizers have been in contact with some of them via pay phone.
Cabello told Latino Rebels that the 11 arrested allies who are not DACA recipients “are practicing jail solidarity, which means they’re refusing bail until they know that our DACA folks are released.”
The civil disobedience was a call for people to get involved in the immigrants’ rights movement and start the conversation nationally.
“This is the moment not necessarily to speak to political figures but to our own communities,” Andiola said during the interview.
Back in 2010, Andiola was one of the students who was arrested at a sit-in in Washington, D.C., demanding Congress to pass the DREAM Act.
According to Andiola, today’s action was “the very first time that we see such an act of courage and sacrifice under Trump’s administration.” She described it as empowering.
This action comes after 10 Republican attorney generals sent a letter to the Trump administration, demanding to end DACA, giving the administration until September 5 to make a decision.
Last week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a new DREAM act bill. However, the White House indicated that it will not be supporting the bill.
Movimiento Cosecha is calling into other organizations and states to take similar actions of civil resistance. It said that LaHuelga.com has more information.