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Hundreds Protests in Seattle - Calls for Immigration Reform Escalate

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Hundreds of people engaged in civil disobedience yesterday in downtown Seattle by peacefully taking over a building and blocking traffic in streets. They were protesting federal inaction on immigration reform carrying signs that read, “Obama, Lead With Courage.” The building, which was located downtown, houses some key audiences: the immigration court, Customs and Border Patrol, as well as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office.

The rally included several prominent Washington immigration reform activists, including One America Executive Director Pramila Jayapal, El Centro de la Raza Executive Director Estela Ortega, and Seattle City Councilman Larry Gossett, who were willing and hoping to get arrested to bring attention to the cause. Seattle’s rally is just one of many to take place in the next few weeks as immigrant advocates continue their campaign of escalation. Already, planned arrests have occurred in D.C., Tucson, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Major actions across the country are anticipated for May 29th.

The Seattle action, which was organized by the Washington Immigration Reform Coalition, risked the arrest of 43 members of the group.

Pramila Jayapal, Executive Director of Seattle’s OneAmerica, had this to say about the protest:

We are proud to have been part of an action that expressed the moral urgency and the sacrifice people are willing to take for this movement…We will use the incredible momentum and energy to build this movement and continue fighting for reform.

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The Seattle protest is just one of a series of non-violent demonstrations happening across the country, keeping the pressure on Obama to pass true, federal immigration reform – a promise he has thus far failed to keep.

With un-American legislation like Arizona’s SB 1070 cropping up in at least 11 other states, it’s clearer than ever that the Obama Administration needs to take a firm stand immediately, instead of simply decrying Arizona’s move to take federal immigration law into its own hands. While the Arizona GOP deserves plenty of blame for dragging the nation backward on immigration, the President and Democrats are in power– and they are increasingly finding themselves on the receiving end of escalating activist angst.