Dozens of rabbis and protesters from Jewish organizations in the US were arrested Wednesday on Capitol Hill during demonstrations against President Donald Trump’s plan to abolish a policy that will result in the expulsion from the country of hundreds of thousands of immigrants.
More than one hundred Jewish activists sat on the floor of the Russell Senate Office Building and refused to leave in protest against the decision to scrap the Dream Act, commonly referred to as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, that would grant amnesty to hundreds of undocumented immigrants
According to the HuffPost, 82 were arrested by the conclusion of the protest, which was organized by a Jewish umbrella movement and attracted activists from the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Bend the Arc Jewish Action and the Anti-Defamation League.
Protesters were arrested for “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding” in a public building, the report said.
With some clad in prayer shawls and wearing Kippot (Jewish skullcaps) while singing songs and chanting slogans in support of the immigrants, the demonstrators demanded that the Dream Act be passed by the anti-immigration Trump administration which has promised to tear up the legislation pioneered by his predecessor Barak Obama that would protect some 800,000 so-called “dreamers” from facing instant deportation.
“It really speaks to who we are as a Jewish community, and specifically as an American Jewish community,” Barbara Weinstein, associate director of the Religious Action Center, told the HuffPost.
“We as Jews know the experience of being immigrants. And as Americans, we’re deeply aware of our history as a nation of immigrants, and that throughout that history immigrants have been a source of strength for this country.”
The issue, she continued, had garnered “bipartisan support―Republicans and Democrats know this is the right thing to do.”
Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said that “This is no time for business as usual,” and was one of those arrested during the protest.
“In the Torah, we are called 36 different ways to love the stranger, the orphan, and the widow. We were strangers in the land of Egypt, and know what it means to be turned away from places we thought of as home,” he was quoted as saying in the report.
“Today, we say there is no more time to waste. We insist that Dreamers be recognized as the Americans that they are.”