Washington DC, Mar 1 (EFE).- Freezing temperatures and rain failed to dampen the spirit of a group of 11 dreamers, or undocumented immigrants, who walked more than 400 kilometers (250 miles) from New York to Washington DC to demand legal status.
The walk had been organized as a symbol of the hardships faced by undocumented immigrants, including those who had arrived as children in the US, and demand an immigration bill that would legalize their stay in the country.
“We chose 11 participants to symbolize the 11 million undocumented immigrants who live in the US, including those who could not qualify for DACA (Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals) and have been without papers for a long time,” Barbara Hernandez, one of the marchers, told EFE.
The dreamers congregated at the Washington monument from where later they headed for the Congress, where authorities arrested six of the protesters – five of them undocumented – the organizers said.
The long walk left many of the dreamers with bruised feet, including sprains and blisters, and other ailments.
“It has been tiring; we got blisters under our feet and I hurt my ankle, some of us got fever (…) but we helped each other and were helped by others on the way,” Madrigal, a 26-year-old California resident told EFE.
The dreamers had left a rainy New York on Feb. 15 and walked through five states – New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland – to reach Washington DC.
After reaching Washington DC, the protesters told the media they wanted a permanent solution to their status in the US and an end to the persecution of undocumented immigrants in the country, including possible deportation of their parents owing to tougher enforcement measures.
“We request the Congress for a clean solution which does not hurt the families, to not give more money to the immigration agency and not make the wall which Trump speaks of,” Osvaldo Rodriguez, a Mexican immigrant, told EFE.
In January, Trump had announced he would only extend the DACA program if three other measures were approved: funds for the construction of the wall with Mexico, end of a visa lottery for countries with low immigration to the US, and restrictions on families of legal immigrants arriving in the country.
The protesters rejected the plan and said they should not be used as bargaining chips for Trump’s anti-immigrant measures.
On Sept. 5, 2017, Trump had decided to end the DACA program – started by his predecessor Barack Obama – which protected 690,000 undocumented youth who had arrived in the US as children.
The president gave the Congress until March 5 to find a solution to the situation, although the Supreme Court had lifted the deadline earlier this week.