PHOTOS: Congressmen arrested during march for immigration reform
Thousands of protestors gathered at the National Mall on Tuesday to demand Congress, currently mired in a shutdown and default crisis, finally get around to passing immigration reform.
The rally, which was organized by a coalition of immigrant rights groups and labor unions, featured speeches from dozens of politicians. Among the speakers was Nancy Pelosi, who recently joined Democratic members in introducing a new comprehensive immigration bill modeled on the Senate’s already-passed proposal. Many attendees carried signs or chanted slogans encouraging the House to hold a vote on the bipartisan Senate bill, which would have provided an earned path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants over a 13-year period.
Several members of Congress joined leaders of pro-reform groups in engaging in civil disobedience at the event, leading to their arrest. Democratic members Charles Rangel, Al Green, Jan Schakowsky, Luis Gutierrez, John Lewis, Raul Grijalva, Joe Crowley and Keith Ellison were removed in plastic cuffs after blocking a street as onlookers cheered “Si se puede!”
Republican leaders have indicated an interest in pursuing immigration reform this year, but have yet to settle on a plan for how to proceed. In particular, the caucus has yet to reach a consensus on whether to grant a path to legal status and eventual citizenship to the estimated 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants living in the country today. With recent battles over Syria, health care, and the debt ceiling, eating up both time and political capital, immigration activists are hoping they can pressure the GOP into revisiting reform – or face the political consequences.