Fighting for a Dream Act with the Torah

Stephanie Ramirez, WUSA 
January 17, 2018
Original Article

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - Jewish demonstrators, including a Rabbi, sang prayers as they were being arrested midday Wednesday.

"I know like I'm speaking for all of us when I say like, we got really emotional because they didn't have to be their doing that. They did it because they wanted to, like, help us and protect us,” said 18-year-old Carlos Yanez, a Dreamer watching the arrests.

It was mass act of civil disobedience at the Russell Senate Office Building calling on Congress to pass a clean Dream Act by American Jews, since the Jewish people are arguably one of the world's most known and persecuted immigrant groups.

"People still to this day are finding out that they're Jewish who didn't know before because when you came to this country, being Jewish was still stigmatized because we are we identify not only on the stories and what these dreamers are going through, but on being different,” said Derek Pugh with Bend the Arc Jewish Action. 

Bend the Arc Jewish Action is the group that organized the coalition of Jewish demonstrators.

Pugh says he wants the Dreamers also there on Wednesday, to have the same chance as his family.

Some of the Dreamers there included this one group of mostly teenage DACA recipients, who told WUSA 9 that demonstrations, like the one seen Wednesday, play-out a little differently from where they're from.

Yanez said they're from Arizona. That's the state they say their parents illegally brought them to when they were kids. It's all they've known.

"It's just a lot more, like, anti-immigrant and there's more, like, tension in Arizona, but here it's the first time I've ever felt like love in the air and there's so much acceptance,” said Yanez.

A Dream Act passed would essentially provide a path to citizenship. Right now DACA, which stands for the Deferred Action for childhood Arrivals program, is just two-year protection from deportation.

"DACA now, I want to say got comfortable. It was like, 'Okay we can breathe, we can go to school, we can do this and right now it's kind of like, 'Agh, what's next,'” said 18-year-old Kendra Soto, describing her frustration.

"If a Dream Act gets passed, I can't even imagine how I'll live without that fear,” said Yanez.

Mirele Goldsmith, a demonstrator from the DC-area told WUSA 9, “We're taught love your neighbor your neighbor as yourself and we need to show that love."

We're told 70-100 people were arrested.

According to the Brookings Institution, DACA applicants were born in more than 190 different countries.