Politics & Government

ICE Arrests Came Hours Before Immigration Rally In Princeton

About 150-200 people showed up to call on Congress to provide a path to citizenship for young immigrants, the Princeton Packet reports.

By Anthony Bellano, Patch Staff | Nov 29, 2017 10:28 am ET

PRINCETON, NJ — A total of four people were arrested by Federal Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers on Tuesday, hours before a rally in support of the DREAM Act.

Four people were arrested by ICE officers on federal warrants in Downtown Princeton Tuesday morning. The arrests happened on Witherspoon Street and John Street, according to the Princeton Police Department.

Earlier in the day, it had been reported that three people were arrested, but it was later revealed that four were arrested. A Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund representative told the Princeton Packet one person was arrested for driving under the influence and the other three had been "swept up." The rally later in the day saw 150 to 200 people gather at Hinds Plaza in support of a clean DREAM Act.

Attempts by Princeton Patch to obtain more information on the arrests were unsuccessful.

The DREAM Act originally inspired the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which President Donald Trump eliminated in September. In eliminating the program, all new applications were cut off, and a six-month window for renewal applications from recipients whose permits were set to expire between Sept. 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018, was established. There were about 154,000 recipients available to apply for renewal, many of whom didn't re-apply.

The program was created by President Obama to protect undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children from deportation and to grant them work permits.

About 700,000 people are enrolled in the programs under terms that require them to be employed or be enrolled in school.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi previously said that Trump agreed to sign the DREAM Act, which originally inspired the DACA program, if Congress passes it. Both versions of the bill, labelled H.R. 3440 in the House and S. 1615 in the Senate, were introduced in July. They still await votes in the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.

At the rally, protesters chanted in both Spanish and English, urging Congress to provide a path to citizenship for young immigrants, according to the Princeton Packet. Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert spoke at the rally, saying "Dreamers are Americans in every single way but on paper."

Lempert was a vocal opponent of Trump's decision to eliminate DACA, calling it "a cruel decision that will tear apart families, undermine our economy and betrays our values."

At the time, she said Princeton would continue "to stand as a welcoming community that recognizes that all our residents — regardless of immigration status — make vital contributions to the success of our town."

In 2015, Princeton joined Welcoming America, an organization dedicated to welcoming all people, immigrants, and non-immigrants. It also seeks to create welcoming and inclusive cities and towns by connecting leaders in community, government, and nonprofit sectors. Welcoming America's goal is to change systems and cultures by helping create policies, reinforce welcoming principles, and communicate the socioeconomic benefits of inclusion.

Since then, the town has participated in two successful "Welcoming Week" events, in 2016 and 2017.