Arizona Dreamers Protest at Nation's Capital, Await Answers from Congress

Tens of thousands of young people in Arizona have been nervously waiting for answers since President Donald Trump let the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program expire in September.

DACA recipients -- known as Dreamers -- fear they and their families could be deported if politicians do not take action soon to pass a bipartisan Dream Act. Advocates are pressuring lawmakers to pass a law that will allow undocumented immigrants to apply for permanent resident status if they came to the U.S. before age 18 and have lived here for four years.

Dreamers from Arizona traveled to Washington, D.C., in early November to protest and meet with members of Congress.

It takes courage to speak out if you're a Dreamer. Recently, a young woman from Arizona was arrested for peacefully protesting in the Hart Senate building in Washington, D.C. The building is where senators' offices are located, and the young woman was among nearly 30 Arizona Dreamers who made the trip.

The gathering was one of the largest peaceful protests to ever occur in the Hart Senate building.

In all, about 1,300 people participated in the protest, and 14 people, all undocumented, were arrested and kept in a holding cell for about three hours. Law enforcement reportedly cooperated with the peaceful protest by not charging the protesters with a crime or fingerprinting them.

Democrats in Congress are threatening a government shutdown if lawmakers don't address the DACA program before Dec. 8.

Congress takes recess in early December. If a good DACA bill isn't passed by then, Dreamers will continue to live in uncertainty. This is true even as Dreamers in college think about graduation and moving into the workforce.

Many people regard these issues as a human-rights crisis for Dreamers and their families. If you or an undocumented loved one is planning to participate in a protest, it is a good idea to try to find out whether immigration authorities will be at the scene. Also, seek guidance and counsel from an immigration and criminal law attorney to ensure that you have the best possible protection of your rights.

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