New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and three members of Congress were arrested outside Trump Tower Tuesday night during a protest demanding protection for immigrant minors.
Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced it was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, aka DACA, which protected immigrant minors known as Dreamers who entered the U.S. illegally with their parents.
President Donald Trump ordered Congress to revamp the Obama-era program within in the next six months, giving nearly 800,000 Dreamers who currently participate in the program an uncertain future that may include deportation.
“We’re here to send a strong message to Trump and the Republican Congress that we expect to protect DACA recipients, we expect to protect them and their family members,” Mark-Viverito told the media before her arrest.
Shortly after, the Council speaker and three Congressmembers — Adriano Espaillat of New York, Luis Gutierrez of Illinois and Raul Grijalva of Arizona — were taken into custody for sitting in the middle of Fifth Avenue outside Trump Tower.
A video posted to the City Council website shows Mark-Viverito and the U.S. reps staging the sit-in as a police recording over a loudspeaker repeats, “Since you have refused to leave the roadway, you have been placed under arrest on the charge of disorderly conduct.”
The footage then shows the speaker being led to a police transport vehicle in handcuffs.
Mark-Viverito, who has participated in civil disobedience actions in the past, told Metro Wednesday she was in custody for about five hours. "I've been taken into custody before, but I don't remember it taking five hours."
But in the end, it was worth it, she said.
"You go through the action, and it’s important with an issue that has such widespread support such as DACA, to continue to put pressure. We felt it was important to join the advocates," Mark-Viverito added.
On Thursday from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., City Council, the New York Legal Assistance Group and advocates will take part in a DACA town hall on Twitter to discuss how its repeal may impact participants and how they can go about getting free legal assistance in renewing their application, which needs to be in by Oct. 5 for a two-year renewal.