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Friday, December 15, 2017

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

While Donald Trump was threatening to destroy North Korea in his first major speech to the United Nations, Reps. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) along with New York City council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito were being arrested outside Trump Tower, according to a statement from immigrant advocacy organization Make the Road New York.

The four elected officials were among the large crowd protesting the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and demanding that Congress pass the Dream Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children.

A group of 12, including the four officials, blocked traffic in busy midtown Manhattan. Espaillat explained that he participated knowing the risk of arrest.

“I do not take civil disobedience lightly,” he explained in a statement. “As a member of Congress who was once formerly undocumented, I believe this cause is too monumental to sit idly by.”

Rep. Gutiérrez, a member of the Judiciary Committee and the chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, emphasized the importance of participating in this action as part of a larger grassroots movement.

“A few congressmen and elected officials gathering in front of Trump Tower doesn’t mean much if it is not backed up by the grassroots and allies, and today we are standing with diverse allies to make sure Congress and the president do more than just talk about solutions, they actually follow through with action,” he said.

Gutiérrez previously spoke out against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s recent deal with President Trump extending the debt ceiling and providing funding for Hurricane Harvey victims, but not the Dream Act. In response, according to Politico, Gutiérrez said, “The bond and trust between the Dreamers and the Democratic Caucus is broken.”

His remarks echoed the feelings of many frustrated immigration activists, like Kica Matos, spokesperson for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, who also participated in Tuesday’s action, and noted, “Immigrants’ lives are not bargaining chips… Congress needs to pass a clean Dream Act now and stop playing games with people’s lives.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the four elected officials remained in police custody.

Pictures from the event are below:

Ilana Novick is an AlterNet contributing writer and production editor.