The Korean Resource Center (KRC) organized two protests at the office of Representative Mimi Walters (R-45) in collaboration with other local political groups on Friday Oct. 3 and Thursday Oct. 9. The protests were attempts to bring awareness to the DREAM Act and to demand a response from Walters on the issue.
Under their #Citizenship4All campaign, the organization hopes to encourage the passage of a clean DREAM Act before the end of the year, which would provide a temporary legislative solution to the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), until a more permanent piece of legislation could be passed to ensure the rights and protection of residents who relied on DACA.
A sizable group of protesters arrived both days, standing and later sitting outside of the lobby area of Walters’ office, holding signs, chanting and beating on drums and various other handheld instruments to amplify their sound and attract attention. Various protesters wore signs labeled, “Protect Our Youth” on their shirts, in solidarity with those affected by the announcement by President Trump on Sept. 5 that he intended to discontinue DACA.
On Oct. 3, various participants in the protest arrived mid-morning and gave testimonies on why they believed the DREAM Act should be passed and demanded action from Walters.
Carlos Perea from Resilience OC addressed protesters, saying, “It takes a lot of courage to be out here; it takes a lot of courage to tell our stories. But more importantly, it is important that we continue to remind these elected officials that we will not be quiet… Orange County [is] changing… we are becoming more inclusive, that we are not allowing hate, that we are not going to tolerate white supremacy.”
“I have to say here: I am undocumented, I am unafraid and all of you that are here that are undocumented and unafraid, let’s continue this fight…” he said, concluding his speech.
“My parents are not criminals. My parents loved me and that’s why they brought me here and I will fight for my parents; I am not afraid because I have the support of many people behind me,” Rosa Rodriguez, a protester, also said to the group.
The sit-in on Thursday started again outside but quickly moved inside as protesters rushed past security guards when several protesters managed to open the building doors from the inside.
They entered to demand a meeting or appointment with Walters to discuss the DREAM Act and for her to face and address the demands of her constituents, something Walters and her office have long refused to acknowledge or respond to.
The two guards at the lobby doors were quickly overtaken and protesters occupied the lobby area, chanting in call-and-response style: “What do we want? DREAM Act. When do we want it? Now,” later, doing the same chant in Spanish. Organizers also invited media into the lobby to film the protest. The group did not advance beyond the lobby area before turning around and exiting the building.
Police later arrived on scene, clearing protesters out and making arrests, including the arrest of at least one KRC organizer.
KRC continues to campaign for the DREAM Act, canvassing on college campuses and encouraging students to write to their representatives in support of the legislation.