New Yorkers came out by the hundreds on Tuesday morning to protest the Trump administration’s decision to end the DACA immigrant amnesty program.
A noisy sit-down protest briefly snarled traffic on Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower at about 11:30 a.m. ET. Surrounded by glitzy storefronts for Prada, Gucci, Bergdorf Goodman, and other luxury brands, a dozen protesters sat in the intersection at 55th Street, holding hands and chanting, “No papers, no fear.”
The NYPD made quick work of arresting the group for disorderly conduct, after blaring a recorded message warning them of their pending arrest for disrupting “vehicular traffic.” The protesters were then hustled into a waiting police van.
The crowds that swelled on the corners shouted, “shame, shame, shame.” Despite the emotions on display and the warm weather, interaction between police and protesters was generally civil.
The demonstration, organized in part by immigrants rights group Cosecha, was expected to run until 7 p.m. The repeal of the policy that allowed children of undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. has galvanized New York’s extensive immigrant rights advocacy infrastructure, organizers said. The end of DACA could mean the deportations of up to 800,000 children and youth. The Justice Department said Tuesday that the program will end in six months and the administration has challenged Congress to come up with a new policy to address the situation.
The sizable crowd that gathered late morning on a work day, without the promise of celebrity speakers, is a sign of how the immigration issue hits home for a city that is the epicenter of America’s melting pot. TV news crews swarmed the demonstration site, interviewing young adults who said they would personally be affected by the reversal of DACA. Many wore T-shirts declaring: “Undocumented, unafraid, unapologetic.”
Jenna Woods, a freelance stage manager from New Jersey, doesn’t know anyone in danger of being deported. But her moral opposition to Trump’s immigration policies was enough to bring her out to Fifth Avenue on Tuesday. She carried her 16-month-old daughter, Vera, in a baby sling outfitted with a homemade cloth covering that declared: “No human being is illegal.”
“I wanted us to do anything we could do to add our numbers to the crowd,” Woods said.
The swelling crowd was cordoned off by police barricades that reduced traffic on Fifth Avenue to one lane. The sights and sounds of bullhorn- and sign-toting protesters made for an odd mix with bewildered tourists and shoppers in the ritzy corridor. A few enterprising street vendors also rushed into the area, offering anti-Trump buttons, two for $5.
In Washington, several hundred demonstrators marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, and staged rallies in front of the White House, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices and the Trump International Hotel. There, the street was blocked off and security guards stood in front of the hotel as demonstrators shouted “Hell, no we won’t go!” and “No KKK, No racist USA!”