Teachers union president arrested at immigration rally in Washington

Protesters came out in support of endangered DACA program

By Tim Swift - Local10.com Digital Editor
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WASHINGTON - The president of the Miami-Dade County teachers union was arrested at a pro-immigration rally on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

Capitol Police detained about 200 protesters, including United Teachers of Dade President Karla Hernandez-Mats, about 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, a Illinois Democrat, and Rep. Judy Chu, a California Democrat were also arrested for failure to disperse.

Mats was among the hundreds of protesters who rallied in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. Started in 2012 by the Obama administration, the policy allows people who came to the US illegally as children to work and go to school under certain conditions.

The program covers about 800,000 people - collectively known as "Dreamers."

In September, the Trump administration signaled that the program should be phased out and called on Congress to create a new policy by March. Several Republican lawmakers have proposed extending DACA, but the renewal would be tied to other measures that would restrict immigration. 

Those measures would include cutting funding for so-called sanctuary cities that don’t comply with federal immigration law.

The protesters say that DACA should be renewed without conditions. 

Earlier Wednesday, Mats met Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican who represents parts of Collier, Miami-Dade and Hendry counties.

The first Hispanic president of the United Teachers of Dade, Hernandez-Mats is the daughter of Honduran immigrants. 

The protest in Washington was one of several Wednesday held in cities across the country.

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