15 arrested during sit-in against repealing DACA program

Wednesday state troopers arrested 15 people during a sit-in outside of Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office.
Those arrested were protesting Paxton’s request that President Donald Trump repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program.

The chants of about 50 protesters echoed outside of the Texas State Capitol Wednesday.

Activists fighting for the rights of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. planned a sit-in in front of Paxton's office to voice their opposition to anti-sanctuary city legislation.

“We have SB4 that's going to come into effect September 1, that's going to affect all immigrants in the state, not because of your legal status, but because of the color of your skin,” said Maria Fernanda Cabello, organizer with Movimiento Cosecha. 

Many of those who protested are recipients of DACA, meaning they met the requirements for protection from deportation.
Paxton along with attorneys general in nine other states have asked the president to repeal that program.

So far, President Donald Trump has not released a response.

“I'm coming all the way from Arizona, because as a DACA recipient and as a daughter of undocumented parents, this is really close to home. We know that there's a lot of fear and anxiety in our communities, however, we know that we cannot rely on faith and put our faith and our hopes in politicians,” said Reyna Montoya who was at the protest. 

“I understand why some people, particularly young adults in the Latino community, are upset and concerned and they are being mobilized increasingly about the possibility of DACA being cancelled. I understand their concern,” said Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, Consul General of Mexico in Austin.

State troopers said they asked protesters to move out of the intersection at 15th Street and North Congress Avenue, but 15 people refused. They were arrested for obstructing a highway or passageway and transported to the Travis County jail. The following people were arrested:

Ariel Mendoza, 23, San Antonio
Catalina Adorno, 27, Union City, New Jersey
Catalina Santiago, 20, Homestead, Florida
Dylan S. Lazerow, 29, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
Emily Demorest, 30, Kalamazoo, Michigan
Elizabeth Galvan, 24, New Orleans, Louisiana
Jose M. Ramirez, 25, Austin
Jose L. Santiago, 21, Florida City, Florida
Juan O. Ortiz, 42, Austin
Justin J. Smith, 30, Washington DC
Miriam Z. Coria, 23, Perth Amboy, New Jersey
Nancy Sauceda, 24, San Antonio
Noah K. Newkirk, 36, Los Angeles, California
Ryan D. Acuff, 34, Rochester, New York
Samuel A. Woody, 25, San Antonio

“What we usually say to the community is that it is very important that in case you receive a request from a law enforcement official that you comply with those instructions,” Gutierrez said.

The Mexican Consulate in Austin confirmed four of those arrested are DACA recipients.

“We have seen that only victories have won when communities have put everything at risk, so, right now, we're sad that four DACA recipients and allies were able to risk arrest, risking deportations, risking not being able to see their families ever again,” Montoya said. 

After the arrests, protester’s chants no longer echoed outside the Capitol.

Instead, their voices could be heard around the Travis County Jail where they held a vigil for the 15 demonstrators arrested.

Mexican Consulates in Texas have seen a dramatic increase in the number of calls and requests for legal advice since the passage of SB4.

In fact, from 2016 to 2017 consulates in Texas saw an almost 700 percent increase between May and June.

The Texas Department of Public Safety released the following statement regarding the arrests:

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) arrested 15 individuals on charges of obstructing a highway or other passageway on Wednesday, July 26. During the incident, several individuals sat down in the middle of the intersection of 15th Street and North Congress Avenue, in the Capitol Complex.

After repeated requests by DPS officials to leave the roadway were ignored, the suspects were arrested without incident for obstructing a highway or other passageway, a Class B misdemeanor.  With the assistance of the Austin Police Department, they were subsequently transported to the Travis County Jail.