More than 30 immigrant rights, labor, faith and other leaders were arrested today on Capitol Hill protesting against the unjust immigration policies and the House GOP’s inability to pass a bill that contains a pathway to citizenship and keeps families together. In total, 41 people were arrested.
The civil disobedience action was held to send the strongest message possible to House GOP leaders that the fight for immigrant families has been escalated and will continue through the August recess and into the fall until the House produces a comprehensive bill that creates a path to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Thursday’s action is just the start of many nationwide activities that will be held to continue putting pressure on House GOP lawmakers. Over the August recess, the groups will participate in “40 Days of Action” to make sure Republicans don’t forget the urgency of passing immigration reform. The actions represent an escalation in the fight for immigrant families and a pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
Advocates blocked traffic at the intersection of First Street and Independence Avenue Southeast by the House Cannon Office Building. Participants chanted, sang and held banners demanding the end to the immoral separation of families.
House GOP members have not just failed to act on a pathway to citizenship, but have instead let the most conservative and anti-immigrant GOP members take the lead in the debate, prompting advocates to turn to non-violent direct action to address the moral crisis of the broken immigration system.
HERE ARE QUOTES FROM LEADERS WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE ACTION AND RISKED ARREST:
“I was arrested in an act of civil disobedience against unjust immigration policies that are tearing families apart, leaving children without their parents, wives without their husbands and brothers and sisters without each other. I was arrested with more than two dozen other courageous activists in the immigrant rights, progressive, faith and labor movements to send the strongest message possible to our leaders: No More! No Mas!” – Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director, Campaign for Community Change
“This movement is at a fever pitch, and today’s remarkable show of unity within it was inspiring. We are only going to fight harder throughout the Congressional recess and into fall for a broad and inclusive path to citizenship for all of our aspiring Americans. We need legislation that above all, prioritizes family unity and an end to the devastating 1100 deportations per day in this country. Today Voces was honored to stand at the side of the national leaders and families leading the way for real reform.” — Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Director, Voces de la Frontera
“Speaker Boehner needs to understand the urgency for reform. Until the House passes a bill that includes a pathway to citizenship, we will continue to be in the streets, at town hall meetings and on the phones, demanding justice for the 11 million aspiring Americans in our country.” – Eliseo Medina, SEIU Secretary-Treasurer
“Our organizations – immigrant rights, faith, progressive and labor – will not stop escalating until we win what is right and good for America. Our rapidly growing political power confronts Congress with the moral urgency and human cost of our broken immigration system that can only be ignored at the risk of unprecedented upheaval. America deserves a vote on immigration reform with a path to citizenship.” --Kica Matos, Director of Racial Justice and Immigrant Rights, Campaign for Community Change
“With all of the talk about polling and demographics, I think too many people have lost touch with the human and moral crisis of deportations. Every day, roughly 1,000 people are deported because the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives is denying the majority of the US Congress a chance to vote on citizenship. I will be arrested today because the labor movement stands with the families tragically ripped apart by John Boehner and the House Republicans’ embrace of a broken immigration system.” –Arlene Holt Baker, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President
“This summer, thousands of immigrant families face separation, deportation, and alienation. It’s all part of the status quo which the House of Representatives refuses to address and fix. While this summer, members of Congress seek family, peace, tranquility, vacation, our community will enjoy none of it unless immigration laws change. In the absence of justice and a path to citizenship, this will not be a regular summer for us nor the members of Congress.” –Angelica Salas, Executive Director, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
“All of us in CWA are proud to stand for citizenship and against intolerance. I am proud to represent our members today as we demonstrate the broad movement that supports a citizenship path for 11 million of our co-workers and neighbors. We will support this campaign as long as it takes whether we are sitting in the streets or organizing in our communities.” – Larry Cohen, President, Communications Workers of America
“As Americans, we honor and celebrate our unique commitment to protecting families, and giving equal opportunities and respect to women and girls. Immigrants like my parents came here to share in that vision. Yet our current immigration policies tear mothers from their children and discriminates against immigrant women. The House of Representatives has a choice: to do nothing and leave this country divided, or to take strides towards a house united for common sense immigration policy reform that treats women fairly and that keeps families together.” — Miriam Yeung, Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
“Each day that the House pushes immigration reform to the side, another 1100 members of our community are deported. We’re taking a stand today to say enough is enough. Our community has organized, mobilized, and voted to demand a vote on the road to citizenship, and we will not stand down until that vote is taken.” – Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center
“We are willing to get arrested to put the spotlight on what is at stake for millions of families and the nation. There are millions of parents who will be separated from their children, married couples that will be separated all because some House Members refuse to do what the voters want them to do: create a path to citizenship so communities around the nation can heal.” –Denise Lopez of Michigan United
“I left my two daughters at home, to participate in this action, because everyday parents are being taken from their children. I know I will see my girls soon, but many immigrant parents don’t know when they will be able to see their children again. We need immigration reform that respects the dignity of our families and allows millions of immigrant women and their families to enter the pathway to citizenship without fear that some family members may be excluded. We belong together.” – Andrea Cristina Mercado – National Campaign Director, National Domestic Workers
“Today we directly confronted obstructionist House Republicans for embracing the status quo – a status quo that is broken – over the will of the American people who want a comprehensive fix for our current immigration system. In dismissing a real solution to our nation’s unjust, unsound immigration system, House Republicans are choosing to ignore hard economic data and compelling public opinion. The House GOP must move our nation forward by passing comprehensive immigration reform legislation that includes a pathway to citizenship and strong worker protections.” — Sarita Gupta, Executive Director, Jobs with Justice/American Rights at Work
“We urge Republican leaders, including Speaker John Boehner and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, to make a stand for real immigration reform that includes a roadmap to citizenship. There’s a notion that doing so is somewhat complicated, but it’s not complicated. House Republicans could just choose to allow a vote for the Senate bill or for the comprehensive immigration reform proposal that a bipartisan group of House representatives are working on. Americans and new immigrants have been waiting for too long.” –Giev Kashkooli, Vice President, United Farm Workers
“I am proud to join my friends in this simple act of conscience. Immigration reform with a path to citizenship is a defining issue for our generation. It is time for the House leadership to stop dithering, delaying and denying a vote. It is time to let the bipartisan majority that exists in the House of Representatives today to vote in favor of reform that includes a path to citizenship. It is time for Congress to do the people’s will and ensure that America lives true to its creed of “out of many, one.”- Frank Sharry – Executive Director, America’s Voice