Hundreds of protesters have occupied a US Senate office building to press Congress to pass legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children to stay in the country, a protection taken away by President Donald Trump.
More than 1,000 people filled the Hart Senate Building with chants and banners calling for lawmakers to pass the so-called DREAM Act, which would grant legal residency to an estimated 800,000 immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, who are referred to as “Dreamers.”
The activists held a giant sign reading, "Congress we demand a clean Dream Act now!" Several of the protesters were arrested by Capitol Police.
The protest comes two months after the Trump administration canceled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a US immigration policy similar to the DREAM Act that was founded by the administration of former President Barack Obama in June 2012.
Under the DACA program, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children, are temporarily allowed to live, work and go to school in the country if they meet several requirements.
Almost 800,000 Dreamers live in the US. The vast majority have arrived from Mexico and other Latin American countries south of the US border.
Polls show that there is wide support for offering protection to the so-called Dreamers. A Washington Post/ABC News poll taken in September found 86 percent of respondents are in favor allowing Dreamers to stay in the country.
Trump’s immigration policies have sparked protests both inside the US and abroad since he took office in January.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump characterized Mexican migrants living in the US as murderers and rapists and said the US would build a wall on the US-Mexico border to keep illegal immigrants from entering the country.