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WASHINGTON -- More than 180 demonstrators, including five from Arkansas, were arrested Wednesday on the steps of the U.S. Capitol while protesting Congress' inaction on immigration legislation.

Maria Meneses, 19, of Little Rock; Diana Pacheco, 20, of Little Rock; Xiomara Caldera, 20, of Springdale; Armando Reyes, 22, of Rogers; and Michel Rangel, 24, of Rogers were briefly detained.

Meneses and Pacheco, beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, were brought to the United States as children and are here illegally. They fear deportation.

A spokesman for the U.S. Capitol Police said the protesters were charged with violating D.C. code Section 22-1307, which prohibits crowding, obstructing or incommoding.

The Washington, D.C., code makes it illegal to block the entrance to any public place once law enforcement personnel have instructed people to move.

The code also makes it illegal "to engage in a demonstration in an area where it is otherwise unlawful to demonstrate and to continue or resume engaging in a demonstration after being instructed by a law enforcement officer to cease engaging in a demonstration."

Uniformed police officers stood on the stairs above the sitting protesters, gently leading them away.

"They were warned to cease and desist their unlawful demonstration activities," a police spokesman said.

Those wishing to be arrested wore green armbands and portrayed their protests as acts of civil disobedience.

Rather than having them stand trial, law enforcement officials allowed the protesters to "post and forfeit collateral."

By paying a $50 penalty, protesters obtained "a full and final resolution of the criminal charge." Under the law, each walked away without a criminal conviction.

While their protest charges have been resolved, the long-term status of Meneses and Pacheco is uncertain.

Legislation has repeatedly been introduced that would allow young adults raised in the U.S. and here illegally, to remain in this country. But the proposals have stalled over the years.

President Barack Obama, by executive order, created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2012, allowing people like Meneses and Pacheco to live and work in the U.S. without fear of sudden deportation.

President Donald Trump announced in September that he is ending the 5-year-old program, but he delayed its shutdown for six months so that Congress could pass legislation addressing the issue. Thus far, Congress has declined to take action.

In addition to Trump, a coalition of business executives and a large group of religious leaders have urged Congress to find a solution for so-called "Dreamers."

Meneses, who left Guatemala when she was 2 years old, said she was in Washington to deliver a message to lawmakers.

"I'm here to push our congressmen to pass a clean DREAM Act," she said, referring to legislation that would allow people like her to stay in the U.S. (DREAM stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors). "I just simply wouldn't understand if they can't come together to actually pass something for people that are valuable to this country."

Meneses, a biology premedical student at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, said she has big plans for the future.

"I expect to go to medical school and then I plan, when I get my citizenship, to run for the Arkansas Legislature," she said.

Pacheco, who left Mexico City when she was 6 years old, said her family headed north in search of the American dream.

"My mom decided to come here to give us a better life," she said. "[I've been in] Arkansas almost my whole life."

Pacheco, who also attends Philander Smith College, said she fears being returned to a land that she barely remembers.

"I was born in Mexico. I understand that. But I was raised here, and I'm more American than anything else," she said. "This is my home. There is no way I can leave. And if Donald Trump decides to take DACA away, just know that I'm not leaving without a fight."

Metro on 12/07/2017

Print Headline: At DACA demonstration in D.C., arrestees include 5 from Arkansas

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  • Packman
    December 7, 2017 at 12:15 p.m.

    So, where were all these protestors during the 8 years Obama did nothing on immigration reform? "Dreamers" didn't just suddenly appear with the election of Donald Trump.
    Are we a nation of laws or a nation of law-breakers? Rule of law, people, RULE OF LAW. Time to enforce the damn law!

  • AuntPetunia
    December 7, 2017 at 1:43 p.m.

    They shouldn’t have been arrested. They are above the law.

    Seriously, there needs to be a more streamlined process to citizenship.

  • PopMom
    December 7, 2017 at 1:48 p.m.

    General mac

    No. Being arrested for peaceful protest is not a big deal. I've protested more than a few times--apartheid, darfur etc etc

  • Dontcallmenames
    December 7, 2017 at 1:55 p.m.

    180 people show up at a NATIONAL demonstration and it makes news? More people than that went to Dixie Café this week! Liberal media making news out of nothing at all...

  • TimberTopper
    December 7, 2017 at 2 p.m.

    Packy, your memory is leaving you, huh? Can't remember what the make up of Congress was way back there during the Obama administration, huh? It may be time for the rule of law to have them take your drivers license, if you still have one. The reason being you may well be dangerous to yourself and others driving, that is if your memory is this bad. Think way back Packy, and maybe, just maybe you'll get that Obama signed an executive order, one which many folks like yourself bitched and whined about at the time regarding the DREAMERS.

  • wildblueyonder
    December 7, 2017 at 3:35 p.m.

    If they were "peaceful" why did they get arrested? That dog don't hunt.

  • Packman
    December 7, 2017 at 3:59 p.m.

    Hey Timber - You're memory leaving you? Obama said he had a pen and a phone and could handle it all. Obama failed DACA. Miserably failed. Now, ENFORCE THE DAMN LAW.

  • PopMom
    December 7, 2017 at 4:08 p.m.


    That number of people always are protesting. The big march on impeachment is scheduled for January 27th. Unless there is a blizzard, that one should get a crowd.

  • wildblueyonder
    December 7, 2017 at 4:13 p.m.

    Impeachment "protest"? I'll bet popmom and rbear will be at the forefront of that!

  • drs01
    December 7, 2017 at 6:13 p.m.

    Illegal aliens here for many years.....victims of their parents' defiance of our immigration laws and Congress' failure to address the issue.....assuming they can live like us citizens.....hoping that the laws would change so they wouldn't have to follow the rules and actually apply for citizenship like so many have done .......given false encouragement and a sense of security by Obama's executive order....getting their panties in wad when Trump announced plans to end the they travel to Washington for some lame-o protest.