‘Act of solidarity’: Catholic nuns & priests arrested on Capitol Hill in Dreamers protest
More than 200 priests, nuns and supporters occupied the lawn outside the Capitol Building on Tuesday. A smaller group later formed a ring inside the rotunda in the nearby Russell Senate Office Building where leaders demanded protection for the Dreamers – an 800,000-strong group of immigrants granted legal status after being brought to the US as children.
Addressing the protesters outside the Capitol Building, Sister Elise Garcia from Michigan said while she was joining in the prest as an “act of solidarity” with the Dreamers. "To our leaders in Congress and in the White House, I say 'arrest a nun, not a Dreamer,'" she said, according to the National Catholic Reporter.
In footage captured inside the Senate building, the crowd can be heard saying the rosary and singing gospel songs as officers from the Capitol Police deliver warnings over a megaphone. When the warnings were not heeded, the officers then tied the wrists of the protesters and led them out of the rotunda. They were charged with disorderly conduct, crowding, incommoding and obstruction, according to the Catholic News Service.
A priest who took part in the protest, Thomas Reese, tweeted a picture of his arrest. He later commented that he thought the Capitol Police were “very professional, very nice.”
In September last year, US President Donald Trump announced that he planned to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program introduced under his predecessor Barack Obama. The program was designed to give legal status to those brought to the US as children and was set to expire on March 5.
After lower court rulings prevented the cancellation of the program, the Trump administration tried to bypass the appeals process by appealing directly to the Supreme Court. On Monday, the court refused to hear the appeal, saying that Trump would need to go through the proper channels.
This is not the first time religious groups have been drawn to the senate building to protest against Donald Trump’s plan to end the Dreamers Act. In January, more than 80 Jewish clergy members and activists were also arrested in the rotunda on the same charges.
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