Washington, D.C. — On a brilliantly sunny and warm day here, in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol dome, more than 200 Catholic priests, sisters and laypeople gathered to support immigration reform and justice for young people brought to the United States illegally as children, known as Dreamers.
Billed as a Catholic Day of Action for Dreamers, the Feb. 27 event began with prayer and ended with 42 arrests for civil disobedience inside a Senate office building across the street. In between, a series of short, powerful speeches and prayers drew at times raucous cheers from the crowd.
Adrian Dominican Sr. Elise García, from Michigan, gave a spirited address to the crowd. García said she was risking arrest "as an act of solidarity," having been given permission by her community to do so.
"To members of Congress, I say, arrest a nun, not a Dreamer," García said. She was arrested.
Several Catholic members of Congress stood in the crowd at various times, including Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Illinois), Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), and Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-New York). The three have supported immigration reform efforts that have thus far come to naught in this Congress.
The day's events had a particular urgency, as President Donald Trump had rescinded the Obama-era executive order establishing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, intended to protect Dreamers. That protection had been set to expire this coming Monday, March 5.