Media

About 20 DACA supporters arrested, purposely, downtown

March 6, 2018 | WTHR 13 | Link to Story

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Metro Police arrested nearly two dozen people downtown Tuesday morning and the people handcuffed actually wanted to be.

These were protestors making a statement about supporting DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

This protest was organized around a symbolic deadline for the end of the DACA program.

That deadline came and went Monday.

But without action from Congress, families, including many locals, are still in limbo and afraid for their future.

Standing hand in hand, stretching corner to corner on Pennsylvania and Ohio Streets downtown, a human chain stopped traffic to start a dialogue about DACA.

And one by one, 20 peaceful arrests drew cheers from a crowd with a message to lawmakers about protecting "Dreamers" - immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children, who have always called America home.

People gathered outside Sen. Joe Donnelly's Indianapolis office, asking him and Sen. Todd Young to support funding for DACA. Both lawmakers recently voted for the Secure and Succeed Act, which would have limited family-based immigration and given $25 billion to the Department of Homeland Security before DACA was set to end.

“I recently supported several proposals that came before the Senate, which included bipartisan bills to protect DACA youth and strengthen our borders. I’m disappointed the Senate failed to advance a DACA solution. I believe the only way we will address DACA is by working together, and I will continue working with my colleagues, Republicans and Democrats to find a resolution, though ultimately, Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker Paul Ryan, and President Trump will need to support a commonsense solution too," Donnelly said in a statement to Eyewitness News.

Demonstrators protested in support of "Dreamers" and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") outside the Indianapolis offices of Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (WTHR Photo/Joe Fenton)

Demonstrators protesting in support of "Dreamers" and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") March 6, 2018, were arrested after forming a chain between the Indianapolis offices of Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young. (WTHR Photo/Joe Fenton)

Demonstrators protested in support of "Dreamers" and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") outside the Indianapolis offices of Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (WTHR Photo/Joe Fenton)

Demonstrators protesting in support of "Dreamers" and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") March 6, 2018, were arrested after forming a chain between the Indianapolis offices of Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young. (WTHR Photo/Joe Fenton)

Demonstrators protesting in support of "Dreamers" and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") formed a chain between the Indianapolis offices of Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (WTHR Photo/Joe Fenton)

Demonstrators protesting in support of "Dreamers" and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") formed a chain between the Indianapolis offices of Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (WTHR Photo/Joe Fenton)

Demonstrators protesting in support of "Dreamers" and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") formed a chain between the Indianapolis offices of Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (WTHR Photo/Joe Fenton)

Demonstrators protested in support of "Dreamers" and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") outside the Indianapolis offices of Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (WTHR Photo/Joe Fenton)

Demonstrators protested in support of "Dreamers" and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") outside the Indianapolis offices of Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (WTHR Photo/Joe Fenton)

Demonstrators protesting in support of "Dreamers" and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") formed a chain between the Indianapolis offices of Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (WTHR Photo/Joe Fenton)

Demonstrators protesting in support of "Dreamers" and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") formed a chain between the Indianapolis offices of Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (WTHR Photo/Joe Fenton)

Demonstrators protesting in support of "Dreamers" and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") formed a chain between the Indianapolis offices of Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (WTHR Photo/Joe Fenton)

Demonstrators protested in support of "Dreamers" and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") outside the Indianapolis offices of Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (WTHR Photo/Joe Fenton)

City-County Councilor Zach Adamson joined demonstrators protesting in support of "Dreamers" and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") outside the Indianapolis offices of Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, March 6, 2018. (WTHR Photo/Joe Fenton)

Demonstrators protested in support of "Dreamers" and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") outside the Indianapolis offices of Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (WTHR Photo/Joe Fenton)

Demonstrators protested in support of "Dreamers" and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") outside the Indianapolis offices of Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (WTHR Photo/Joe Fenton)

Demonstrators protested in support of "Dreamers" and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") outside the Indianapolis offices of Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (WTHR Photo/Joe Fenton)

Demonstrators protested in support of "Dreamers" and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") outside the Indianapolis offices of Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (WTHR Photo/Joe Fenton)

Demonstrators protested in support of "Dreamers" and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") outside the Indianapolis offices of Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (WTHR Photo/Joe Fenton)

Demonstrators protested in support of "Dreamers" and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") outside the Indianapolis offices of Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (WTHR Photo/Joe Fenton)

Demonstrators protested in support of "Dreamers" and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") outside the Indianapolis offices of Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (WTHR Photo/Joe Fenton)

Demonstrators protesting in support of "Dreamers" and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA") March 6, 2018, were arrested after forming a chain between the Indianapolis offices of Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young. (WTHR Photo/Joe Fenton)

The local protest is part of protests nationwide, one day after the program was set to expire.

For some of the speakers, it's personal.

"Our parents have paid the price for us to be standing here," Zahyra Arenas told the crowd. "Recognize that we are already part of this country."

Arenas and her husband recently bought a home in Indianapolis. She's a mother of two young boys. She grew up in Chicago and is also a dreamer, born in Mexico City.

"My mom brought me to the United States in 1994. I was six years old," Arenas said. "She realized if I would have stayed in Mexico, I would not have had opportunities."

She described the fear of a legal status in limbo, the fear that families could get ripped apart. Her DACA protection ends next year.

"You never know if you're going to get that phone call saying your brother, your mother, one of your parents got arrested," Arenas said. "We still feel that something is going to be taken away from us."

That's why she's asking Congress to act and keep families united.

"This is my home," Arenas said.

It's also why faith leaders intended to get arrested at Tuesday's protest.

"This is just a symbol of what they go through every day," said Charles Allen, a chaplain with the Episcopal Lutheran campus ministry at Butler University. "Compared to the fear that dreamers have every day, this is nothing."

He says something has to be done.