On Wednesday, April 10, members of Voices’ staff joined tens of thousands of immigrants and activists at the Rally for Citizenship on the lawn of the US Capital. The rally called for Congress to draft and sign a comprehensive immigration reform before their summer recess (August 5- September 6). Immigration activists want reform to include a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented workers currently residing in the United States.
In addition to the DC event, which was largely organized by CASA de Maryland, other cities like Boston, New York, Atlanta, and San Francisco also held rallies in support of immigration reform.
Among the tens of thousands who attended the DC rally were immigrants, union workers, and immigrant rights groups and activists. The air above the National Mall was filled with American flags as well as flags from various Latin American countries. Attendees held up posters and signs that addressed a variety of issues, stating, “The Time is Now,” “Keep Families Together,” and “The U.S. is a Nation of Immigrants.”
Chants of “Si se puede” (yes, you can) and “Obama escucha, estamos en la lucha (Obama, listen, we are in the fight) and “Reforma, Ahora” (Reform, Now) erupted throughout the rally. The crowd had impressive energy, especially when members of Congress, for example Senator Robert Mendez (D-NJ) directly addressed the crowd about their promises to enact comprehensive reforms. Members of Congress spoke of the important contributions that immigrants make to U.S. culture and economy, and reminded everyone that the U.S. is a country historically and presently comprised of immigrants. Underlining the important role of immigrants in the U.S, (name?) stated, “without immigration, there is no vibrant American culture.” Many speakers at the rally also stressed that families are being torn apart by U.S. immigration laws.
While the majority of the attendees were Latinos and Spanish was the most prominent language spoken at the rally, groups from Asia and Africa participated in as well. Speeches by activists, journalists, Congressmen and Congresswomen, and community leaders were given in English and Spanish and at times Arabic, to address as many different populations as possible.
Voices stands in solidarity with those fighting for comprehensive immigration reform and is hopeful, perhaps naively so, that the gang of eight representatives working on immigration reform will finally achieve meaningful change.
(Voices is drafting a more detailed article about the immigration reforms proposed by the Gang of 8 – a group of U.S. Senators. We’ll be posting again soon!)