Arkansans Protest In Washington, D.C. In Support Of Dream Act

(KFSM)- Six Arkansans have joined other activists in Washington, D.C. this week to take part in a civil-disobedience protest until legislators approve the Dream Act.

Those from the Arkansas United Community Coalition said this was an exciting trip, but also a difficult one. They said they are fighting for the dreamers who are living in fear, not knowing what tomorrow will bring.

The protesters went to Senator Tom Cotton's office in Washington, D.C., but said they were asked to leave.

"We were immediately kicked out by his staff," Xiomara Caldera, protester said. "They did not give us a chance to share our stories even after we explained that we were his constituents."

Cotton said in an interview on Sunday (Jan. 14) that people should be treated for who they are.

"We have system that rewards ties of blood, ties of kin, ties of clan," Cotton said. "That's one of the most un-American immigration systems I can imagine. That's why we're trying to fix it."

Those protesting said they are performing various demonstrations to make sure their voice is heard.

"It's a combination of sit-ins, a combination of blocking traffic, a lot of things that create pressure like interrupting meetings, as well," Humberto Marquez, organizing director said. "Anything that requires and pushed pressure on our congressman. We have been reaching out to them for months and months and sometimes they listen but there's no action."

The group said the experience has been tough, but they're hoping for a positive outcome.

"Our experience has been emotionally draining because we go from office to office sharing our stories and continue to not be heard and listened to," Sadaf Raza, protester said. "Doing it day after day, it drains you."

"To think that their livelihoods are at risk every day, that they live in fear, that they don't know what tomorrow brings, it's just not fair and it makes me angry because they deserve so much better than what we're giving them," Caldera said.

Gabriel Lopez was another protester that joined the group. He said he has felt a mix of emotions during the trip.

"I felt happy on one hand to see so much different support and advocacy from different age ranges of people, different races," Lopez said. "But, on the other hand, it has made me really upset to see some of theseĀ  senators shut us down. Some of these senators have refused to listen to our message or refused to even let us in their offices. That to me, is just really unjust and not right."

Marquez said this week symbolizes one of the last times for dreamers to get the Clean Dream Act passed. He said for many people right here in our area, that may mean they won't be able to drive, work or support their families once their work permit expires.

Also in Senator Cotton's interview, he called origin quotas, "arbitrary," and said he recommends changing the immigration system to a skills-based system focusing on people as individuals instead of residents of certain countries.

Some members of the group, as well as the public will continue the protest in Northwest Arkansas in A Call To Action on Thursday (Jan. 18).

The Call to Action will be at 9:30 a.m. at Senator Tom Cotton's office in Springdale.