Rep. Judy Chu was arrested at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday during a demonstration calling on Congress to find a legislative fix for the legal status of hundreds of thousands of people brought into the country illegally as children.
Chu (D-Monterey Park), sitting in the first row of protesters on the Capitol steps and holding a banner that said “Defend our immigrant communities,” was among the first people arrested after Capitol Police repeatedly ordered the protesters to leave.
Before the arrest, she attended a nearby rally in support of the so-called Dreamers and made it clear she intended to get arrested during a demonstration afterward, even posting a photo of her “civil disobedience starter kit.”
Chu spoke at the rally, telling the crowd “let’s make sure America remains a land of opportunity.” She said her choice to be arrested wasn’t a difficult decision.
“This is such a critical week and month in the lives of these Dreamers. I have heard from them, I have heard their anxiety and their incredible fear,” Chu said. “It’s a very urgent matter and we have to put our actions where our mouths are.”
Capitol police have not responded to questions about the arrests, but Capitol Hill protesters are typically charged with unlawful conduct, a violation of District of Columbia’s code.
An estimated one-quarter of the 800,000 people who were granted work permits under the discontinued Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program live in California, and members of the state’s congressional delegation have put intense pressure on their colleagues to quickly find a fix to the current situation.
President Trump announced in September that he would end the program, giving Congress until March to come up with a legislative fix. He halted renewals of the two-year permits soon after, which means an estimated 122 people could lose protection from deportation and permission to legally work in the United States every day.
Democrats, and some Republicans, are pushing for a legislative fix before the end of the year, perhaps as a part of the spending bill Congress has to approve to keep the government open. However, House and Senate Republican leaders have said there is plenty of time to address the issue before the March deadline, and that Congress has other priorities right now.