Arrests in Washington come as leaders push immigration reform to protect Dreamers, who came to US illegally as children
Prominent Muslim-American faith leaders on Monday were arrested at the U.S. Capitol while urging Congress to stand against President Donald Trump's effort to end a program that protects certain young immigrants.
Led by prominent Muslim leaders and activists such as Imam Omar Suleiman, Imam Dawud Walid, Imam Mujahid Fletcher, Imam Talib Shareef, Nihad Awad of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Zahra Billoo, and Linda Sarsour, the group peacefully advocated immigration reform before getting arrested for acts of civil disobedience.
Suleiman, Walid, Awad, Billoo, and Sarsour were arrested and taken into custody.
"Almighty Allah has told us to stand for justice. We are not weak in faith and we are here for a mobilization," said Shareef of the Muslim Alliance of North America, quoting the late Malcolm X, stressing that many Haitians and Africans also have undocumented children who stand to be hurt by these policies.
"We stand here in the spirit of Malcolm X with the people who are affected by these policies," he added.
"This is creating real fear," Suleiman said, adding that the imams are fighting white supremacy because Islamophobia, racism and hostility against immigrants all stem from the same roots.
Fletcher, who also came to the U.S. as a child from Columbia, said he shared the experience of the Dreamers, people who came into the U.S. illegally as children.
"We don't want to live based on fear. We want to live according to the principles of freedom of speech, of religion," he said.
Trump has long desired to end renewal applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Its recipients, known as Dreamers, were thrown into legal uncertainty after Trump moved last year to end the program, which protects hundreds of thousands of Dreamers.
Trump gave lawmakers until yesterday, March 5 to come up with a replacement, before a Supreme Court ruling delayed that deadline for as much as a year.
He has been locked in bitter negotiations with Democrats about replacing the program in exchange for a raft of immigration overhauls that would end other avenues of legal immigration.