By Haley Robinson, a Fall 2013 Leadership Conference Education Fund Intern
An estimated 20,000 people gathered on the National Mall on Tuesday to participate in the March for Immigrant Dignity and Respect in order to urge the U.S. House of Representatives to pass comprehensive immigration reform with a roadmap to citizenship. Amid shouts of “si se puede,” musical performances and speeches preceded a march to the Capitol and acts of civil disobedience.
Speakers at the rally focused on the need for immediate action and emphasized the real-life impacts of comprehensive immigration reform. In a particularly touching segment, a group of children shared that they wished their families could be together again after their parents had been deported.
Civil disobedience spurred 211 arrests, and as the arrested demonstrators walked down the crowded aisle of participants, they were encouraged with loud cheers and chants from supporters
Eight members of Congress took part in the civil disobedience and were all arrested as well, including John Lewis, D., Ga., Luis Gutierrez D., Ill., Raul Grijalva D., Ariz., Joseph Crowley D., N.Y., Keith Ellison D., Minn., Al Green D.,Texas, Jan Schakowsky D., Ill., and Charles Rangel D., N.Y.
The event was extremely effective in communicating the urgency of this issue. As Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif., said, “The time is now for our country to live up to our best traditions of liberty and justice for all.”
Signs reinforced the commitment of the crowd to pressure Congress for reform, with messages ranging from “Don’t deport Dora y Diego” to “John Boehner, let Congress vote.” Check out this visual recap of the event on BuzzFeed, featuring 28 times advocates got it right at Tuesday’s immigration reform rally.