Jose Chiquito, along with 18 other DACA recipients and allies, traveled to Capitol Hill to demand a “#CleanDreamActNow.”
Chiquito, a Goshen College sophomore, left with Indiana Dreamers in Action (DIA) on Wednesday, Jan. 17 and traveled 10 hours to Washington D.C. with the intent of conducting sit-ins and meeting with senators.
DIA was one of the many pro-DREAMers movements from all over the country that journeyed to D.C. for a “Day of Action” where they demanded that a clean Dream Act be included in the government budget.
DIA’s first stop on their brief time in D.C. was to Saint Marks, a church only blocks away from Capitol Hill. Here, DREAMers and allies were given breakfast and a quick rundown of what their day would look like, what they should do if arrested and how to properly stage a sit-in.
From there, Chiquito’s group joined another delegation from Kentucky and went to U.S. Senator John Cornyn’s office. According to Chiquito, Cornyn is the second most influential Republican in Congress and one of the main targets for the “Day of Action.”
DIA hoped to be able to meet with Cornyn to discuss his stance on the Dream Act, however the senator was unable and the group spoke to one of his staff members instead.
“[The staff member] was telling us that [Cornyn] understands and he cares, but he’s in a tough position — he wants to make sure that both sides are getting what they need,” Chiquito said. “It was very frustrating to hear all that, knowing that [Cornyn] clearly has been against the Dream Act, and their priorities are mainly around militarizing the border.”
When the delegations were refused a meeting with the senator, they sat down and began chanting — the beginning of a sit-in. From there, staff members called Capitol police. Once the police arrived, those who wished to avoid arrest left the room. Chiquito said five women from his group were arrested, some of whom were DACA recipients.
From Cornyn’s office, DIA and the rest of the group traveled from office to office, visiting Paul Ryan, Joe Donnelly and Todd Young.
During their time at Donnelly’s office, DIA met with some of his staff.
“We made it clear that we want him to vote no on the continuing resolution if there wasn’t any Dream Act attached to it,” Chiquito said. “We also made it clear that we’ve been organizing in state and that if he continues to not show support [for the Dream Act] that we will organize to elect someone who will.”
After those meetings, DIA attended a candlelight vigil, listened to the testimonies of DACA recipients and ate dinner with other delegations.
On Friday, the government shut down, leaving DIA and other delegations with little to do but a lot of hope. Chiquito said that DIA left D.C. at 4 p.m. and while they made their way back to Ind., they tuned in to a livestream of the Congressional debate about the shutdown.
Chiquito said, “It was empowering, knowing that we were able to contribute to this and we left… hopeful that something was going to be resolved.”
The government is no longer shut down and still there is no concrete plan of a Dream Act being introduced.
“We’re back to where we began,” Chiquito said. “We’re questioning whether we do have the support we need to introduce it. We know we have the votes. But it will not be clean.”
For students who wish to lend their support, Chiquito recommends contacting Senators Donnelly and Young. Senator Jackie Walorski also just released a survey about immigration policy.
“It’s super short and simplistic. It’s something,” Chiquito said.
Chiquito also recommended registering and actually utilizing one’s right to vote. Chiquito also recommends reaching out to him directly at email@example.com.
“You can always come to me. If you want to be in the front lines or if you want to contribute your time or talents, let us know,” Chiquito said. “[DIA] is doing a lot and we have a lot planned.”