KINDERHOOK – Columbia County Sheriff deputies charged five protesters on Monday, December 18, after they refused to leave Congressman John Faso’s (R-19th) District Office in Kinderhook. The demonstrators were seeking support for immigration legislation called the Dream Act bill.
Deputies were called at about 5 p.m., Sheriff David P. Bartlett said in a press release. “Deputies spoke with protestors to try and avoid any arrests by just encouraging them to leave the office on their own,” he said in the release.
The protesters refused. Four of the five live in Columbia County, one lives in Kingston. All five were charged by deputies with trespass and issued tickets to appear in Kinderhook village court.
State Police also responded to the office earlier in the day and removed and issued tickets to four other demonstrators, according to one of those who was ticketed.
The protesters were seeking to convince Mr. Faso to support a bill to create a federal “Dream Act,” which would allow some undocumented young immigrants who were brought to the US as children to remain here and to work and study legally.
Protesters told WAMC Northeast Public Radio that they want Mr. Faso to join supporters of a bill in Congress for a “clean Dream Act,” a law that would revive an Obama administration policy known by its acronym, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). The protesters and their supporters nationwide want a “clean” bill that comes without provisions for other immigration policies.
Mr. Faso told WAMC that he believes a bill for only the Dream Act would not pass and that he supports legislation that would also include increased “border security.” (http://wamc.org/post/update-protestors-arrested-rep-faso-s-district-office-over-dream-act )
According to one of the protesters, Ghent resident Scott Langley, over a dozen people occupied Congressman Faso’s office at various points during the day. There were told by the office staff that a maximum of eight people are allowed in the common space at one time, “so whenever we would surpass that number, people would be arrested, forcibly removed, or asked to leave,” he said in an email response to The Columbia Paper.
Mr. Langley wrote that between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., State Police removed and ticketed four people for exceeding of the eight-person limit. Though he said not all the people arrested were led out in handcuffs or taken to a police station, all were removed from the office by police and given citations.
A release issued Monday morning by the group Columbia County Sanctuary Movement said that the event was “led by a marching band” in the congressman’s office. Three of the nine band members, Tin Horn Uprising, were ultimately arrested, Mr. Langley among them.
“When vulnerable people in our community are affected negatively by policies of our U.S. government, it is our responsibility to hold our representatives accountable. Rep. John Faso’s refusal to support a clean Dream Act does an incredible disservice to the Dreamers in his district,” Mr. Langley wrote. “We went to his office to demand he withhold his budget vote until a clean Dream Act is in place…. Sitting-in and disrupting ‘business-as-usual’ was our last hope.” The vote to extend the federal budget was scheduled for Friday, December 22.