ANAHEIM, Calif. — Beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and their allies temporarily blocked a vehicle entrance to Disneyland on Monday, just as the Senate reached an agreement to end the government shutdown brought on in part by a stalemate over the young immigrants’ future.
The DACA recipients, commonly called “Dreamers,” stood in a crosswalk at South Harbor Boulevard around 10 a.m. and blocked buses from entering the Anaheim theme park. The 15 protesters were quickly removed by law enforcement officers and were relocated to a sidewalk, where they held signs and chanted, “No dream! No deal!”
By 10:40 a.m., the protesters had left the area.
“The group is only about 20 people, who have been peaceful. Disneyland is operating as normal today,” Disneyland spokeswoman Suzi Brown said in an email.
The government shutdown began at 12:01 a.m. Eastern time Saturday when Democrats in the Senate, joined by a handful of Republicans, blocked a House-passed bill to temporarily fund the government for four weeks.
Democrats and Republicans are at a stalemate over several issues, especially the future of the DACA program, which has protected nearly 800,000 young immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children.
Senate leaders on Monday morning reached an agreement to end the shutdown by passing a stopgap spending bill and committing to tackle the issue of immigration before the next deadline, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Monday.
Activists with the #OurDream coalition — a group of immigrants’ rights organizations — say their protest was meant to pressure Congress to not pass a spending bill until the Dreamers are protected. They said they were tired of “unfulfilled promises” by legislators to settle the matter.
Barbara Hernandez, a 26-year-old DACA recipient from Santa Ana, said protesting in front of Disneyland was symbolic.
“It’s where dreams come true,” she said. “But we’re not on vacation anymore. We’re still waiting for our dreams to come true.”
Hernandez said she knew blocking the street could make traffic worse or cause an inconvenience for people. But disruption, she said, is something the Dreamers have become accustomed to.
“It’s something we go through every day of our lives,” she said. “There is always something blocking us from moving forward.”
One woman walking by the theme park shouted at the protesters, “I’m going to call my member of Congress today!”
The woman, who would only give her first name, Carmen, said she supported the activists and thought the minor inconvenience of having to wait to get into Disneyland didn’t bother her.
A few minutes later, Dusty Roads, of Phoenix, tried to navigate his family past the protesters standing under the Disneyland sign at the park’s east entrance.
“What do we want?” the activists shouted.
“We want you to go home,” he told them. “We want you to move.”
Roads, who also disapproved of the massive women’s marches over the weekend, said he didn’t know the details of the protest but that he found it annoying.
“It’s America,” he said. “We don’t need that stuff. We don’t need to protest. All it does is create hate.”
Dafne S., a DACA recipient from Los Angeles, said in a statement that “Congress members shouldn’t recklessly gamble with the lives of undocumented youth.”
“The vast majority of the American public supports the DREAM Act without anything in exchange. We will not stand by while members of our community are forced deeper into the shadows,” she said.
Claudia Treminio, a Los Angeles DACA recipient, called the stalemate a “wasteful attempt to appease Trump’s racist base” and a “way to bankroll his corporate backers.”
“We will not stay silent as President Trump and members of Congress use us as bargaining chips to build a border wall,” she said.