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Immigration Coalitions Demand Liberty and Justice for All

Saturday, October 5th, 2013 was another day of solidarity in the fight for immigration reform.  Reform activists organized rallies in more than 160 cities across the country to call Congress to take action to implement immigration reform policies. The goal of the rallies was simple —to remind members of the House of Representatives that their constituents are expecting momentum on a immigration reform.

Here’s the breakdown on the current state of affairs concerning immigration reform and the House:

  • House Democrats have put a bill forward that addresses some of the most pressing issues concerning immigration reform.

  • The bill is based off of the piece of legislation that overwhelmingly passed in the house and a security bill that passed with bipartisan support by the House Homeland Security Council.

  • This bill now sits within the confines of the House and is yet to reach the floor. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has stated that the bill will not be brought to the floor as long as a majority of House Republicans oppose it, which is currently the case.

Following the rallies, activists call for action again on Tuesday, October 8th with Camino Americano: Concert and Rally for Immigrant Dignity and Respect. Following the example of the March on Washington, Camino Americano brought thousands of activists to the national mall to express the need for change. The Camino Americano concert followed utilized culture as a source of inspiration and strength. Music was employed as a tactic to share the stories of immigrant families, invoke a sense of unity, and, of course, community.

Once the concert commenced, the rally continued in full force as the group marched from the national mall towards the Capitol. Within the crowd stood immigrants, allies, and supporters from Congress. Near the Capitol activists strategically blocked the streets to provoke awareness of their movement as well as instigate arrests. By the end of the event, over 200 hundred people were arrested for “crowding obstructing, and incommoding,” including eight members of Congress: John Lewis (D-GA), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Al Green (D-TX) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

These acts of civil disobedience remind us that immigration reform is not an issue that can be pushed aside, stalled, or ignored. It is an issue that affects 11 million inhabitants of this country every day and not just another talking point on a laundry lists of topics. While a few Congress members were able to attend the the Camino Americano rally, there are many more representatives who are in support of taking much needed steps forward. This issue is on the agenda because it should be addressed now and not later. The United States was built upon principles of equality, liberty, and justice for all. We must hold our federal system accountable to act in accordance with these democratic principles. Our coworkers, neighbors, friends, peers, and family members, deserve the recognition of dignity and respect that immigration reform coalitions are demanding.

If you want to get involved in the movement to ensure immigrant rights, there are many organizations taking action in the greater DC area, including the AFL-CIO, CASA de Maryland, the Virginia New Majority, SEIU, National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, among others. Check out their websites to find ways to stay informed.

Progress is a continuous journey. Let us continue to #IMPACT our world!

See photos from Camino Americano at The Eye photo blog here: http://blogs.pjstar.com/eye/2013/10/09/200-arrested-in-d-c-immigration-reform-rally/

Written by Colleen Roberts

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