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Yesterday, a group of immigrant women with We Belong Together and CHIRLA successfully forced a meeting with GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy, who came to meet with them shortly before midnight, after they’d spent hours engaging in an act of civil disobedience that left them locked in his office without food, water, or medication.
A group of 13 women, calling themselves the “Baker’s (field) Dozen” staged a sit-in at Rep. McCarthy’s office in Bakersfield, chanting, singing, and refusing to leave until McCarthy met with them and promised to push for immigration reform in the House this year. Outside, more than a hundred people—including immigration reform advocates, faith leaders, farm workers, students, and allies from all over California—rallied and held a vigil in support of the women.
McCarthy’s office closed for the day at 5 PM, and police locked the 13 women in without food, water, or medication. They stayed there for another six hours until 11 PM, when Rep. McCarthy and his wife finally came to meet them. McCarthy told the women that he is “serious about solving the problem” but refused to sign a pledge to push for a House vote; he also said that immigration reform would be tackled this Congressional session but did not say it would be resolved this year.
As Angelica Salas, executive director of CHIRLA, said in a statement today:
Absolutely unacceptable that the House, led by men such as Speaker Boehner and GOP Whip McCarthy, refuses for purely political reasons to move one inch on an issue most Americans and a large portion of Republicans agree upon. While our families are torn apart by the thousands on a daily basis, these elected officials waste their time fantasizing over who is in power next year,” said Salas. “Today’s action and tomorrow’s activities in other states, plus more that’s in the pipeline for Thanksgiving and beyond, will show the House we are not kidding when we say we want action in the House before the end of 2013.
Yesterday’s action was the beginning of three days of women-led demonstrations, organized by We Belong Together, to push for immigration reform. Women in Washington today were arrested after occupying the state GOP headquarters, and other events in eight states are to follow.
You can view pictures of yesterday’s demonstration in Bakersfield here and here, but check out this definitive picture of Rep. McCarthy, finally meeting with the 13 women just after 11 PM. Let’s just say, this isn’t something you see the GOP Whip doing very often — and he doesn’t look happy about having to do it: