A throng of illegal immigrants with “no papers” and “no fear” descended on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices in Newark, New Jersey on Monday to demand protections from deportation.
Less than 200 protesters gathered at Rutgers University in Newark and marched with a police escort to the ICE building on Broad Street, where they blocked traffic and paraded in front of the building with signs including “We are the future of America,” “Pass the Dream Act,” “stop racism now.” Many in the crowd also toted SEIU union placards.
The stunt, and several similar protests throughout New Jersey, took place on March 5, the deadline President Trump set for the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which was established by President Obama to shield certain illegal immigrants from deportation.
Trump set the deadline several months ahead to give Congress time to craft a solution for the roughly 700,000 illegal immigrants in the DACA program. That didn’t happen.
Maria Del Cielo Mendez, a DACA recipient from Plainfield, told NJ.com protestors were emboldened by recent court rulings that blocked the president’s move to end the program, which essentially nullified the deadline.
“Today, on March 5, is the day that Trump decided to wind down DACA. Obviously, the courts ruled in our favor and said you can’t do that, but we’re here to tell Congress that we still need protection,” she said, alleging “Dreamers are being deported every single day, our families are being ripped apart every single day.”
“March 5 is really the day that we’re fighting back.”
Protestors unfurled large banners with the hashtag #HereToStay and marched en masse to “tell the whole wild world this is Dreamer territory.”
Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor was one of several officials who spoke in support at the rally.
“We are putting a stake in the ground for what we’re supposed to stand for: E pluribus unum – out of many, one,” she said, quoting the U.S. motto.
Others were less focused on the unity.
“Come November, the American people will remember,” SEIU director Kevin Brown lectured to the crowd in Newark.
“Eighty-six percent of the American public want a clean Dream Act,” he claimed. “Shame on you, Donald Trump! Shame on you, Republican Party! We will win, you will lose!”
According to NJ.com:
The protesters, who had a Newark police escort, briefly stopped traffic as they marched back and forth across Broad Street. Their shouts in front of the federal building drew some Department of Homeland Security police officers outside the building, but the protest remained peaceful. Some people inside the federal building came to the office windows to watch.
The Newark rally was one of six coordinated throughout the state on Monday to demand Congress approve a “clean” Dream Act – a solution for illegal immigrants that includes a path to citizenship.
Trump proposed a plan to do exactly that for 1.8 million illegal immigrants during his January State of the Union address, in exchange for funding to erect a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and other enforcement priorities.
Cinthia Osorio, a “community organizer” with Wind of the Spirit – one of 30 groups involved in the New Jersey protests, told the Daily Targum current proposals are simply not good enough.
“Right now there’s a lot of legislation focusing around DACA, and it’s not clean, meaning that there’s money being used towards a wall, militarizing ICE gear, mass deportations and we don’t want to separate families so our message today is dream deferred because our dream in being deferred once again.”
It’s a view that Rutgers seems to share.
“Rutgers was one of the first institutions in the country to engage on the DACA issue and remains a national leader,” University spokesperson Dory Devlin said. “President Barchi has led the grassroots effort that has generated more than 33,000 letters to Congress advocating for a legislative solution to the DACA dilemma and will continue to join those advocacy efforts.”
There was about 22,000 illegal immigrants enrolled in the DACA program in New Jersey last year, out of roughly 51,000 eligible for the program, NJ.com reports.