Members of Indiana Dreamers in Action (DIA) shrugged on their nicest suit jackets and pulled on their dancing shoes on Friday night as they hosted Black Out, a fundraiser of dancing and drinks. Last night, they used the donated money to pay for gas as they drove to the east coast. Today, they will wrap scarves tight around their necks and grasp signs of protest as they lobby in Washington D.C.
DIA, composed of 19 DREAMers, including Goshen College’s Jose Galvan Chiquito, a sophomore, headed to the U.S. capitol yesterday. When the group arrives in D.C., they will be visiting the Senate offices of Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, Chuck Grassley, Tom Cotton and Kevin McCarthy.
Today is the second to last day that Congress can make any efforts to protect DREAMers, or else they will be left hanging. DIA is working alongside the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) who is leading a national movement of a handful of organizations with intentions of protecting DACA on capitol hill.
Chiquito said the five senators have been instrumental in obstructing any DREAM legislation. The plan for today is to gather outside the offices of McConnell, Cornyn, Grassley, Cotton and McCarthy and cause a disruption.
There’s a chance that DIA could also get to meet with Senator Joe Donnelly – an Indiana democrat who did not support any DREAMers at the end of Dec. Donnelly was presumed to vote against the spending budget unless it included funds for the DREAM Act. Unfortunately for DACA recipients, Donnelly voted in favor of the budget.
DIA, and other organizations, are hoping to voice their concerns to Donnelly when they visit his office.
Eventually, capitol police will arrive – whether they’ll arrive immediately or after a few hours, Chiquito is unsure. From there, the police will give the protesters warnings. If a protester gets three warnings, they could be arrested. At any time before the last warning, protesters can choose to back out if they don’t want to risk being arrested.
If all goes well, those detained would be released this evening. The conglomeration of organizations that will be present on capitol hill have lawyers and other resources at the ready.
Some of the DIA members plan on being arrested, others not so much.
Chiquito said he doesn’t plan on being arrested.
“It is a risky thing,” Chiquito said. “It is uncertain. Usually, there have not been issues – there are very rare cases where the proceedings for that take longer. It’s usually just a processing fee that you pay. But no, I won’t.”
This past weekend, DIA went through civil disobedience training in preparation for the trip. On Saturday, the group learned exactly what civil disobedience looks like – what to do and not do. The next day, DIA held a conference call with a handful of major organizations that explained what exactly being arrested would look like and what to bring.
“It’s not complicated,” Chiquito said. “You can’t resist arrest otherwise it’s a different charge.
When asked whether he was nervous, Chiquito responded, “No, I’m not even overwhelmed. I just know it’s a lot for this week. It’ll be good.”
As for Goshen College students who want to support DIA, Chiquito said the most important thing to do right now is to call representatives.
“Put pressure on people who could be instrumental votes, like Donnelly. Right now it’s all about using our energy well. People are still encourage to call Jackie Walorski and Todd Young. People should also call representatives who are leaders like… majority leaders.”
The Goshen College Facebook page will be posting Chiquito’s livestream today.
“Sharing this is important to maintain momentum,” Chiquito said. “Flooding social media apps with this kind of information and images is important.”