SALT LAKE CITY — Several demonstrators gathered downtown Tuesday afternoon to urge Congress to protect young immigrant "Dreamers."
Earlier in the day, Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, and 31 of her congressional colleagues issued a statement asking House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to focus on a legislative solution for those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program before the holidays.
"Thousands of DACA recipients live and work in my district, contributing to their community daily," Love said. "I have no interest in separating them from what is likely the only country they know."
Talitha Nascimento, a “Dreamer” and BYU student studying sociology, said she was willing to risk arrest to bring attention to the program that protects young immigrants from deportation.
Nascimento said her parents traveled from Brazil to the United States on a visa when she was 9 months old.
"We want to make sure (Congress is) listening to us," Nascimento said. "This is my country; this is my home. And for all of the other Dreamers, this is our home."
Nascimento organized the demonstration at the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building, 125 S. State. She and a dozen others planned to enter the building and demonstrate outside the office of Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
But the group decided to cooperate with building security and instead peacefully sat in the lobby for 20 minutes before a few members met with a representative from Hatch's office.
"We want to tell representatives that we are here," Nascimento said, "and it's just one final push for representatives to recognize that we are not going to ignore the situation."
Agustin Diaz, an educator at Utah Valley University, also briefly joined the demonstrators.
"I am here in support with them," Diaz said. "It's important that when we see this kind of reaction from others in our community, that we help support that."
In September, President Donald Trump announced he would phase out the DACA program. Created by former President Barack Obama, DACA also allowed recipients to work legally in the United States.
"The timeline imposed by the (Trump) administration’s announcement compels us to act," said Love, a co-sponsor of the Recognizing America’s Children Act, a House bill that she says offers solutions to allow young immigrants to remain in the country permanently.
"It is crucial that we bring a reasonable solution to the House floor," Love said in her statement, "so we can provide certainty to this Utah population that contributes to our communities and growing economy."
President Trump has been meeting with Democratic leaders in Congress since September to discuss possible resolutions to protect young immigrants from deportation and enhance security along the U.S. and Mexico border.29 comments on this story
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, a Democrat who is challenging Love in next year's 4th Congressional District election, cheered her "reversed position on DACA."
“I support finding a solution on DACA. Whatever caused her change of heart, I’m glad Rep. Mia Love is finally on the right side of this issue," he said in a statement that also listed her votes to end the program. "What’s most important now is that Washington fix this problem — along with other issues Congress has failed to address this year.”