Undocumented mothers press Democrats on immigration reform

Updated

Police officers arrested several undocumented immigrant mothers who staged a sit-in Monday outside the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters to put President Obama and his party on notice for their unfulfilled promises to immigrant groups.

Four demonstrators were handcuffed and hauled away by police officers after the protests blocked both sides of streets outside of the DNC in Washington, D.C.

Organizers said that among those arrested were Teresa Galindo, 70, a grandmother who has lived in the U.S. for 26 years; Mayra Canales, 29, a legal permanent resident from Arizona; Andrea Adum, 28, a U.S. citizen; and Maria Elena, 50, an undocumented immigrant.

All four women were prepared to get arrested, said activist Cesar Vargas, whose mother was led away by police in handcuffs Monday.

“I’m definitely concerned, but she knows what she was getting herself into,” Vargas said of his mom, Teresa Galindo. “For me, it’s an inspiration. She is fighting for her freedom, to remind all political parties that she’s fighting for her family.”

Advocacy groups for DREAMers – young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children – organized the immigrant mothers, who earlier in the day gathered around signs reading “Deportation Party, Breaking Promises and Families” while chanting “no more delays.”

Advocates were outraged earlier this month after President Obama temporarily abandoned promises to address deportation relief for undocumented families in order to provide cover for vulnerable Senate Democrats facing tough re-election bids in November. While White House advisers have pledged that the president intends to take action by the end of the year, groups estimate that as many as 70,000 undocumented immigrants could face deportation threats because of the delay.

Earlier in the summer, Obama pledged to use his executive powers to address immigration in the wake of congressional inaction on comprehensive reform. Advocates and immigration groups expected Obama to act on his own by shifting deportation policies to protect immigrants who have deep roots in the United States. Depending on the scope of action the president was willing to take, advocates predicted that millions could be protected from deportation threats and allowed to remain in the U.S. with their families.

Obama granted similar shields to DREAMers in 2012, allowing more than 580,000 young immigrants to temporarily remain in the U.S. without being targeted by immigration enforcement officials. While those DREAMers were given relief, their parents and other relatives were still at risk.

According to a recent Pew Research Center study on the U.S.’s immigrant population, as many as 4 million undocumented adults lived in the country with their American children. Roughly three-quarters of of those adults have lived in the U.S. for a decade or more. 

Maria Cruz Ramirez joined the protests outside the DNC headquarters, which kicked off Sunday night with a candle-lit vigil. Though she says she has lived in the U.S. for more than 13 years, Cruz said she is fearful the delay of executive action could cause her to be separated from her three children, all DREAMers.

“We came especially to say please come through with your promises,” Cruz told msnbc’s Jose Diaz-Balart. “We’re human beings and we’re running the risk that by the time he passes executive orders, something might happen … Maybe I’ll be deported.” 

Dream Act, Immigration Policy and Immigration Reform

Undocumented mothers press Democrats on immigration reform

Updated