We're Proud as Jews, and as Immigrants, to Have Been Arrested for the Rights of Dreamers

Stosh Cotler
January 21, 2018
Original Article

Last Wednesday, I participated in an act of public theology - together with more than 80 American Jews, we sang, we chanted and we engaged in peaceful civil disobedience. After months of sustained activism in over a dozen states around the country, Bend the Arc pulled together 18 Jewish organizations in D.C. to demand a clean Dream Act and protections for vulnerable immigrant youth facing imminent deportation.

Together, singing Olam Hesed Yibaneh and Ozi V'zimrat Yah, we occupied a space in the Senate office building for over an hour until we were arrested and taken away by the U.S. Capitol police.

I felt proud to be a Jew embodying our tradition’s most central values and I felt the echoes of history flow through me as I wore my grandpa Leo’s prayer shawl, himself an immigrant who arrived in the U.S. as a twelve year old boy.

In March, the Trump administration will let the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program expire. Young people who have been living, working, and studying here, are already at risk for detention or deportation from the only home most have ever known. Only the DREAM Act can protect them from the whims of Trump’s ICE forces – and last Friday was one of Congress’s last chances to act.

We at Bend the Arc Jewish Action refused to let our elected officials off the hook, and rallied our nationwide membership with a major request: Will you come to Washington DC, and risk arrest for those most targeted by Trump’s bigotry? Are you willing to get uncomfortable for what you believe in? Our members responded in force, from San Francisco to Texas; and Champaign, Illinois to Boston.