Jewish Atlantans Leah Fuhr and Abbie Fuksman were among more than 100 people who held a sit-in at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington on Wednesday, Jan. 17, to demonstrate support for legislation legalizing the position of so-called dreamers in the United States.
Bend the Arc Jewish Action organized the demonstration with the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the Anti-Defamation League and 15 other Jewish organizations. It involved 86 rabbis and other Jewish activists, as well as immigrants, all of whom converged on Capitol Hill in support of people who were brought to this country illegally as children.
The U.S. Capitol Police made 82 arrests because such demonstrations are illegal in Senate buildings. Those arrested were fined and released, Fuhr said.
“I never planned on being arrested for my beliefs, but … it was a historic and bold action that I was proud to participate in,” Fuhr said in a statement to the AJT. “I traveled from Atlanta to fight for those who could lose their jobs and families and be deported, all because we have a president and Congress who no longer believe in the American dream. My Jewish faith and ancestry are informed by my people’s past struggles to survive hate and racism, and I was not afraid to be arrested for my peaceful, public protest in support of other immigrants who should be allowed to stay in America.”
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs held a Capitol Hill press conference with Latino organizations the same day, echoing the call for “a clean DREAM Act” that would grant permanent residency and provide a path to citizenship for dreamers who graduate from high school.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, created by President Barack Obama and canceled by President Donald Trump, covered as many as 800,000 dreamers, but the total population is estimated to be about 3.6 million.
“As the Jewish community intimately understands, at its best the United States has been a beacon of hope for refugees and immigrants around the world facing persecution or seeking a better life for themselves and their families,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said. “Congress must act immediately to ensure nothing less. A clean Dream Act is a moral imperative for the heart and soul of our nation.”