Kids learn civil disobedience skills in preparation for immigration protests Wednesday in Washington, D.C. / Natalie DiBlasio, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON - Seven kids arrested Wednesday as they sat in the middle of a busy intersection outside the U.S. Capitol all had one thing in common: Their families have been split up by deportation.
The youngsters were flown to Washington to join the protest by the immigrant-rights organization Center for Community Change. The protest drew scores of supporters and onlookers. Capitol Police arrested 27 people, including the seven minors ages 11 to 17.
In a pouring rain on a flooded street, the preteens and teens shouted, "Boehner, Boehner, don't lock us in a chamber" - referring to Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio - and "The youth united will never be divided." The adult protesters echoed their calls.
The young activists spent some time earlier Wednesday learning the art of protest and how to get arrested in an act of civil disobedience. The goal was to urge House Republicans to take action on immigration.
The Senate passed an immigration bill last June that would allow undocumented workers to eventually apply for citizenship. Some House Republicans, however, are standing firm against any measure that could be construed as amnesty for undocumented immigrants. President Obama is facing mounting pressure from immigration groups who want him to use his executive power to ease or stop deportations immediately.
Yahir Servin, 11, of Alabama, was the first child to get arrested Wednesday. Before the protest he said, "I am fighting for my father. He is undocumented. I am fighting for all of the children who don't have their mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters.
"Families need to stay together, because sometimes you need the love of your father and your mother and your sister," he said. "It's too hard without that support."
"I want to bring my dad back," Talia Gonzalez, 16, said before the rally. "It's been four years. My sister's birthday is tomorrow and she is so sad he isn't going to be here. Again. She says she wants her daddy."
Talia said she was nervous about getting arrested but proud of herself.
Indhire Carrillo, 14, flew in from Colorado. Her father was deported. "My mom, she has to work three jobs, and that is really hard for her," Indhire said. "My youngest sibling just turned 11 and it's hard for him. He hasn't had his dad."
The Fair Immigration Reform Movement tweeted midafternoon that all had been released. At 5 p.m., however, a Capitol Police spokesman would say only that they were being processed.
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