Democratic congresswoman: ‘I was proud to be arrested’ with immigration protesters
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said Saturday that she was “proud to be arrested” along with hundreds of other protesters on Capitol Hill this week, and would do it again in order to take a stand against President Trump’s immigration policies.
“I was proud to be arrested with them,” she told The Hill. “The Trump administration is doing this and I as a Congress member, a representative of the United States government, refused to allow my name to be used in that way.”
Jayapal’s arrest came Thursday at the “#WomenDisobey” protest, a sit-in organized by the Women’s March, the Center for Popular Democracy Action and CASA in Action.
“That is how the republic works,” Jayapal said. “You have to be able to use a variety of tactics, from outside organizing in the streets, civil discipline mediums, peaceful, nonviolent civil disobedience to internal organizing and advocacy on [Capitol] Hill.”
According to Capitol Police, approximately 575 people were arrested on Thursday.
The protesters blasted family separations at the border brought on by President Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting anyone crossing the southern border illegally. Parents and children were detained separately as a result of the process.
Although Trump has signed an executive order ending the practice, the path to reunification for the more than 2,000 children who were separated remains cloudy.
Jayapal said she was “moved” by the family stories shared by the women.
“These are mothers, sisters, daughters, people who understand exactly what these women who brought their children here we’re trying to do,” Jayapal said. “We’re like mama bears with a cub, right? You have to protect our children and give us our babies.”
Jayapal noted that she joined a demonstration earlier this month, along with fellow Democratic lawmakers Reps. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.), Luis Gutiérrez (Ill.), John Lewis (Ga.) and Judy Chu (Calif.) marching to the headquarters of U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Washington, D.C.
“We were ready to be arrested,” she said. “Certainly there are many Congress members who have been arrested in the past on immigration issues and will continue to because we all understand that staying silent is not an option.”
Jayapal said she sees the family separation issue as a larger symptom of the U.S. immigration system, saying that the government should get rid of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and start over with a blank slate.
Other lawmakers have also joined the call to abolish ICE, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).
Jayapal is one of the lawmakers attending this Saturday’s Washington, D.C., rally against family separations. More than 700 rallies are planned around the country and tens of thousands were expected to rally in the nation’s capital.
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