By Arturo R. García
Saturday’s March for Immigrant Respect & Dignity was indeed a prelude to a bigger demonstration on the National Mall on Tuesday that drew thousands of protesters calling upon lawmakers to stop slacking on the promise of comprehensive immigration reform.
But while the protest was officially non-partisan, it also saw Democratic members of Congress join in, most notably Reps. John Lewis (D-GA), Joe Crowley (D-NY), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Al Green (D-TX), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), as well as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who also spoke during the event.
“Part of my job is to try to draw attention to appalling conditions that Americans are going through, but that for me doing something dramatic may allow a critically important issue to languish,” Ellison later told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “Sending out a news release, I didn’t think, would work.”
The advocacy group United We Dream estimated that more than 200 people were arrested while taking part in an act of civil disobedience during the demonstration, which was spurred by congressional inaction following the Senate’s passing of a new reform bill over the summer. Though both immigration supporters and the White House were behind the legislation, it ultimately stalled in the Republican-heavy House of Representatives.
That partisan bias showed again on Tuesday in criticism from Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who said, there was “something odd about House leaders like Nancy Pelosi protesting on the Mall to get jobs for illegal aliens and pushing legislation to reduce job opportunities for U.S. citizens.”