Over the past week, immigrant rights activists have been turning up at congressional offices to demand one thing: that Congress move to protect all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country from President-elect Donald Trump’s threats of deportation, not just those currently protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The events were organized by Movimiento Cosecha, the group also behind the movement for sanctuary campus actions around the country. The action echoes the tradition of Las Posadas, where participants go from door to door asking for a safe place to stay as an homage to Christianity’s Mary and Joseph.
On Thursday morning, a small group visited the offices of Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY). According to an email from organizers, these senators were chosen for being leaders in the Democratic Party. In the days to come, groups will also visit legislative offices in Minnesota, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York, organizer Brenda Valladares told Fusion.
So far, efforts to create protections for undocumented residents have only been made for those who qualify for DACA, and activists fear that without immediate action for everyone else, it may be too late. With just over a month until Trump’s administration takes office, it’s now or never for the current administration to extend further protections to all undocumented immigrants.
Unfortunately, simply maintaining the current protections won’t be enough: in his first 100 days in office, Trump has already promised to cancel President Obama’s executive actions, orders, and memos–which could also include DACA–and to begin deporting two million undocumented immigrants who may have committed crimes under his definition.
“Democrats need to move away from this narrative that only DREAMers are deserving of permanent protection,” organizers wrote in an email announcing the action. “Democrats need to stop trying to divide our communities and start demanding more.”
Last week, another, larger group affiliated with the #TodosNosotros project went to the offices of Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). Gutiérrez has a long history of pushing for immigration reform, criticizing deportation policies and advocating on behalf of the undocumented community. He has said on his Facebook page that his work to protect DACA is “just one facet of what we are doing to try to make sure that immigrants – families, DREAMers, refugees, asylum seekers – the whole ball of wax – are in as safe a place as we can put them before Trump takes office.” It’s that advocacy, in fact, that’s behind the activists’ choice of Gutiérrez and Lofgren. Organizers said that the two representatives’ signing of a letter asking the White House to pardon the 750,000 DREAMers protected by DACA inspired them to go to their offices.
As part of the action, protesters held large white signs with “TODOS NOSOTROS”–all of us–written in black, and sang a traditional Posada song.
“Posadas are a cultural tradition from Mexico and Central America around Christmas time to reenact Mary and Joseph seeking refuge,” Movimiento Cosecha organizers wrote in an email to supporters. “Just like Mary and Joseph asked for protection from their community, we are calling on Democrats to protect all 11 million undocumented people.”
They are also delivering a letter delineating their demands that legislation or pardons be passed to protect all undocumented immigrants.
But members of Movimiento Cosecha say even an eleventh-hour bill from Democrats might not be enough.
“We welcome any legislation, but it must be followed by another ask for pardon or legislation that protects everyone who is undocumented,” Valladares explained.
Valladares said none of the elected officials they have visited so far have responded to their letters. The group is still evaluating what future actions they can take in the remaining month before President-elect Donald Trump takes office.
For now, she said they will continue to pressure their elected representatives–Democrats in particular–to act immediately to protect all undocumented immigrants.
Note: this post has been updated with additional information about Rep. Luis Gutiérrez’s work around undocumented immigrants’ rights.