Several Muslim faith leaders and activists were arrested on Monday while demanding protection for young immigrant “Dreamers”.
They were part of a diverse group of activists representing Jewish, Black, Latino, Arab, South Asian, and other communities from across the country who gathered Washington, DC to demonstrate in support of legislation to protect unauthorised immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as children, commonly known as “Dreamers”.
The group of activists marched from the American History Museum to the Capitol Building. At the Capitol, they participated in an act of civil disobedience outside the office of Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Several individuals from the group, including imams, were arrested by Capitol Police after refusing to vacate the hallway outside of Paul Ryan’s office until he met with them.
Among those arrested was imam Omar Suleiman. On Tuesday, he wrote on Facebook: “I’m proud of the leaders who came out yesterday to join… It was an honour to be arrested with you! I pray that millions are inspired by your leadership.”
He also encouraged his supporters to keep protesting and urging U.S. officials to take action on immigration reform:
Let’s stay focused on the issue. Hundreds of thousands of families are being ripped apart and we need to come to a permanent solution for them. Until we do, we must keep the pressure up on this racist regime. Paul Ryan’s staff didn’t have the decency to even open the door yesterday. The dreamers live in fear daily for no wrongdoing of their own while these politicians treat them like a chess piece. So until a clean dream act is passed, stay engaged with regular actions.
Other Muslim leaders that were detained included “Women’s March” co-chair Linda Sarsour, Imam Zaid Shakir of Zaytuna College, Dawud Walid, Zahra Billoo and Nihad Awad from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Last year, President Donald Trump announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme would be phased out, giving Congress a March 5 deadline to come up with an alternative.
No such legislation has moved forward, leading to protests across the country on Monday night.
Imams in the group of protesters spoke of the Islamic imperative to protect and provide shelter for migrants. In calling for the nation’s highest values while invoking Islamic scripture, they stood in sharp contrast to the Trump administration’s racist caricatures of Muslims.
Imam Dawud Walid, from Detroit, Michigan said:
Our faith tradition holds a special status for immigrants who’ve left their lands searching for a better way of life. We call upon Congress to pass legislation to protect DACA recipients under the previous administration from the undue burden of leaving their families and communities which they’ve positively contributed to.
Muslim activist Linda Sarsour said:
Every day, the Trump administration works to divide us. But what are stronger are the things that unite us: our dreams and our faith. We’re here today to stand with our undocumented sisters and brothers - whether they’re Muslim or from any other background - and demand that Congress pass a clean Dream Act now.
Imam Mujahid Fletcher of Houston, Texas, a prominent leader in the Latino Muslim community, said:
When I was only eight years old, I came to the U.S. with my parents as we migrated from Colombia. I’m grateful to God to be standing here at the Capitol today and would like the same opportunity to be given to all Dreamers. We can’t allow our immigrant youth to be punished and stripped away from the only lives they know - which is right here, in our families and communities, as Americans in America.
Imam Zaid Shakir of Oakland, California, said:
Deportation of the Dreamers is immoral. If you’re a moral person, you have to stand with the Dreamers.