It’s been an exciting day–this morning, United Farm Workers, United We DREAM, and America’s Voice took to the halls of the Capitol to deliver 224 cantaloupes to members of Congress who voted with Steve King on his recent amendment to deport DREAMers and others. Then over 40 key immigration leaders (including Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice) took to the streets, where they were arrested after a demonstration of civil disobedience protesting House inaction on immigration reform.
DREAMers Amanda Bonilla and Yoli Navas were participants in both, and sat down afterward to tell America’s Voice the behind-the scenes story of the events.
According to Amanda, it took three hours for a small army of volunteers to purchase all the cantaloupes yesterday and transport them to Capitol Hill. She and Yoli delivered some three dozen cantaloupes to as many House offices this morning, where they personally encountered a few Congressmembers.
One of them was Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX), who was receptive enough to them–for the most part.
“He was very nice and polite to us,” said Amanda. “He actually said that he was with us, but when we asked him ‘are you with our families,’ he avoided the question until someone came to his rescue.”
Other DREAMers and advocates delivering cantaloupes received a few chilly reactions from House members, including a team that ran into Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who chairs the House Immigration Subcommittee. Gowdy left his cantaloupe in the hall rather than accept the gift. Jim Gerlach of Pennsylvania was another Congressman who refused his cantaloupe.
When it came to the rally afterward, both DREAMers agreed that the civil disobedience sent a powerful message.
“The energy of the crowd was really incredible,” Yoli said. “Watching everyone get arrested was extremely moving because it means a lot to our communities and we’re grateful for people who are willing to take risks for us.”
Watch the video here: