To the cry of “Yes, we can!”, hundreds of migrants rallied Tuesday in front of Congress to make it clear that they will not give up their dream of immigration reform and that it is time for the Democrats to keep the promises they have been making for years.
The protest lasted about four hours: it began in a park near the headquarters of one of the government agencies in charge of detaining and deporting migrants; and ended in front of the Capitol’s reflecting pool, where activists set up a stage.
On that stage stood the Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, on whom immigrants have their eyes fixed because, in large part, the approval of a law that would allow the regularization of eight of the estimated eleven million undocumented immigrants living in the country depends on him.
To rally the crowd, Schumer tried to end his speech with the slogan: “The people united will never be defeated.”
Criticism of Schumer and the Democrats
After the speech and surrounded by security, Schumer proceeded to enter a large black vehicle waiting for him behind the stage; but an activist took the opportunity to take the microphone and address the senator: “Leader Schumer, Leader Schumer, get it now, get immigration reform. Not in the next election, but now!”
“When, when, when, when?” the activist shouted to the protesters, who responded, “Now, now, now!”
There was a certain weariness among the attendees because Democratic presidential or congressional hopefuls have been promising the Latino community immigration reform every election cycle for years, but never deliver.
“The time is now. The Democrats can’t make any more excuses,” Lenka Mendoza, who was born in Peru and has been living irregularly in the United States since 2001, told Efe news agency.
Mendoza said she has had enough and that if the Democrats do not keep their promises, there will be consequences at the ballot box.
“My daughter is a (US) citizen, she’s 15 and will vote in the next elections. My daughter has marched with me since she was very small and she’s told me that, if the Democrats don’t come through, she’s going to vote in the next (election) and will take that into account. And, like her, there are millions of young citizens with undocumented parents.”
Specifically, according to a report this year by the American Immigration Council, more than 6 million children under the age of 18 live with a family member, usually a parent, who is undocumented.
Congress has not passed a law allowing a large group of migrants access to citizenship for 35 years.
The last time was in 1986, when then Republican President Ronald Reagan signed a law that allowed the regularization of some three million undocumented immigrants.