Peaceful protest held in support of 'Dreamers' on Chattanooga City Hall steps [photos]

Peaceful protest held in support of 'Dreamers' on Chattanooga City Hall steps [photos]

March 3rd, 2018 by Mark Pace in Breaking News

Staff photo by Doug Strickland / Areli Hernandez shouts with demonstrators at Chattanooga City Hall during the United We Dream march on Saturday, March 3, 2018, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Demonstrators marched to show support for an immigration solution that protects so-called dreamers, immigrants who have been protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program known as DACA.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Updated at 10:07 p.m. on Saturday, March 3, 2018.

Gallery: Peaceful protest held in support of 'Dreamers' on Chattanooga City Hall steps

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Peaceful protesters rallied outside Chattanooga City Hall Saturday evening, urging lawmakers to pass legislation that keeps DACA recipients in the U.S.

A crowd of approximately 200 people marched the sidewalks of the M.L. King district, holding signs and chanting support for so-called "Dreamers," who are undocumented immigrants living in the United States under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

"We are demonstrating to our representatives that Chattanoogans have love for all of their neighbors," event coordinator Alondra Gomez, 21, shouted from the steps of city hall. " We are here because 2 million undocumented youth need protection. They need a new Dream Act now."

Gomez, herself a "Dreamer," moved to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 5 years old.

Alongside her husband, Jared Steiman, the couple called on attendees to contact U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., and ask him to support a new bill.

The Tennessee Republican believes the U.S. needs a full immigration overhaul, including a border wall, tighter regulations and "an agreement on the DACA situation," he said. He said he is in favor of President Donald Trump's plan to renew DACA, or a similar piece of legislation, in exchange for border security and other immigration reform.

"Keeping this one point in mind, DACA is only one small part of the entire immigration scenario," he said. "And what I would like to see is some sort of comprehensive fix to the entire immigration situation. DACA is only a small part of it."

Fleischmann has received calls from people on both sides of the issue, he said.

Fleischmann and Gomez both said they are at least partially concerned by the Supreme Court's decision to extend the DACA deadline by a year.

While the decision will allow DACA recipients to stay in the U.S. and not live in immediate fear of deportation, they are both concerned the extension will push the issue out of the minds of legislators, they said.

"The American people want to see a legal solution to the entire situation," Fleischmann said.

And protesters at the march echoed that statement.

"I hope that the U.S. Congress gets a reasonable, humane answer to not end DACA but see it transformed into something livable," attendee Cristina Calderon Ruiz, 23, said.

Contact staff writer Mark Pace at mpace@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6361. Follow him on Twitter @themarkpace and on Facebook @ChattanoogaOutdoorsTFP.


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