Dreamers Hold Peaceful Vigil at DHS Chief Home & Disrupt White House Staff Entrances
Washington, D.C. – Despite a downpour, Dreamers and families who have been in front of the White House all April ended their month of escalation with a peaceful vigil in front of Jeh Johnson’s home early this morning, singing prayers and peacefully telling stories of those in detention or who have been deported. Johnson is the Secretary of Homeland Security, and has the discretion to unilaterally lower the deportation rate.
The families did not get to speak to Johnson as he was ushered into his car very quickly by a squadron of secret service. However, Hilda Alvarado, whose husband could be deported this month, said “he looked right at us as he got into car and I know he heard our prayers. I hope he felt my pain of not having my husband.”
“We are out here, in the rain and cold, to tell Secretary Johnson that we need him to expand DACA and implement affirmative protection from deportation to help keep families together,” said Cesar Vargas, Director of the Dream Action Coalition.
With comprehensive immigration legislation stalled in the GOP-led House after passing the Senate last year, President Obama has come under intense election-year pressure to stem deportations, which have neared 2 million on his watch, and expand affirmative protection to millions of undocumented parents and workers.
Potential changes on immigration enforcement comes as Johnson proceeds with a review ordered by Obama on how to make deportation policy more humane.
After, the Dreamers made their way to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House disrupting the entrances of White House staff as they arrived to work.
“Why are you guys here? Why don’t you protest in front of the White House? We just work here,” said a staffer as she entered the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
“Well your boss is not listening,” said Erika Andiola, co-Director of the Dream Action Coalition. “The disruption you are feeling is nothing compared to the disruption families feel when they are separated by immigration agents in their homes. And we want you to tell your boss to stop deportations”
Dreamers are urging President Obama take responsibility for his deportations, and offer relief while the GOP obstruction continues to kill all hopes of comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Along with a large banner of then candidate Barack Obama’s 2008 speech against deportations, the families recounted the broken promises made by now President Obama.
Secretary Jeh Johnson, has gone on record about the importance of keeping immigrant families together. While this happens, deportations are still breaking families apart.