CSU student arrested while advocating for clean DREAM act in Washington, D.C.

Samantha Ye

A Colorado State University student was arrested in Washington, D.C. Thursday while advocating for the passing of a bill that would provide protection and a path to citizenship for “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors.

woman stands beside man as police arrest them
Colorado State University senior ethnic studies major and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient Brithany Gutierrez is arrested by Metropolitan Police in Washington, D.C. Gutierrez has been in Washington, D.C. with the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition since Tuesday to Congress members to pass a “clean” Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. (Photo courtesy of Brithany Gutierrez)

Senior ethnic studies major and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient Brithany Gutierrez has been in Washington, D.C. with the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition since Tuesday, urging Congress members to pass a “clean” Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act.

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“I consider myself a leader within my community at CSU,” Gutierrez said. “I have a lot of friends and family members who are DACA recipients, who will be affected by the DREAM Act, so I want to ensure that I fight for the people who I know will be affected.”

On Thursday morning, CIRC members planned and held demonstrations at the offices of several Congress members they noted as anti-immigrant, according to Gutierrez. 

Gutierrez was part of a protest at the office of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who said he would support giving DACA recipients a path to citizenship, but he does not support a DREAM Act without robust border security and interior enforcement measures, nor does he want a resolution to be tied to a government spending bill.

Protesters chanted for a clean DREAM Act inside Grassley’s office for two hours. When they decided not enough was being done, they moved outside the office to where they risked a greater chance of arrest.

According to the public incident report from the Metropolitan Police Department, the protesters occupied a hallway area in the Hart Senate Office Building, where demonstration activity is prohibited.

When U.S. Capitol Police arrived, they gave the protesters three warnings to leave the building or face arrest.

Some protesters left after the second warning, but Gutierrez and a fellow protester sat through all three warnings. They were arrested and charged with violating D.C. Code 22-1307: crowding, obstructing, or incommoding.

About 20 other undocumented immigrants were arrested at protests held at other offices, according to Gutierrez.

Gutierrez said the arrests were planned, since those who “volunteered” to be arrested practiced and understood what would happen when they would refuse to leave the building. 

“Some of us, including myself, were arrested to prove that we are very serious about this and that we’re willing to do whatever it takes to make sure we get a clean DREAM Act,” Gutierrez said.

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Some of us … were arrested to prove that we are very serious about this and that we’re willing to do whatever it takes to make sure we get a clean DREAM Act.”Brithany Gutierrez, CSU senior ethnic studies major and DACA recipient

CIRC gave Gutierrez bail money, and she was released later the same day.

For the past week, CIRC has been lobbying for Congress members to either pass a clean DREAM Act as part of a government spending bill or oppose any bill without it.

The clean DREAM Act would allow a path to citizenship for immigrant youth and young adults brought to the U.S. as minors, which includes DACA recipients, and would not include additional immigration policy or funding tie-ins, according to the National Immigration Law Center.

After President Donald Trump terminated the DACA program in September, recipients expressed concerns over what would happen to their residency status, and many congressional Democrats and progressive senators say they will not approve a government funding extension without a resolution for DACA recipients.

man and woman hold sit on floor and hold signs that read "#DreamActNow"
Colorado State University senior ethnic studies major and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient Brithany Gutierrez, right, sits with other protesters outside the office of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, in Washington, D.C. Jan. 18. (Photo courtesy of Brithany Gutierrez)

A bipartisan bill proposed Wednesday would make DACA permanent, but also appropriates $2.705 billion for border security improvements, eliminates the visa lottery and limits “chain migration,” or family-based migration.

“I think that we need a negotiation that is clean because they are proposing different bills … that are trying to distract us from the DREAM Act, and they’re trying to incorporate pieces that would hurt either family members or people that live along the border … and that’s not what we want,” Gutierrez said. “We don’t want protection for us at the risk (of) the lives of others.”

Though the protests have not drawn any public comments from Congress members, Gutierrez said people have taken notice of their stance.

“We want to make sure that (those in Congress) understand that we will not stop until we get a DREAM Act,” Gutierrez said. “And, hopefully they change their mind after seeing us and hearing us in-person and seeing that we’re real people and that we’re not just a number.”

Collegian reporter Samantha Ye can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @samxye4.