Immigrant Advocates Give Lawmakers Something To Think About Over Recess

Lawmakers preparing to leave Capitol Hill for the August recess were confronted by hundreds protesters calling for comprehensive immigration reform outside House office buildings.

Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director of America’s Voice.
Photo: Oralia Valencia/TRNS

By Oralia Valencia

Protestors gathered to send a message to lawmakers that the issue of immigration reform is escalating.

According to Mahrdad Azemun, Director of Campaigns for Community Change, two weeks ago when it became clear that there would be no House vote on immigration his organization, along with 30 other pro-immigration group,s decided to coordinate today’s rally. According to Azemun, 30 protestors were arrested today.

TRNS found Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director of America’s Voice, who led the organization of today’s protest moments after he was placed under arrest by Capitol police. While standing in handcuffs surrounded by police TRNS asked why he was under arrest. “Because we’re putting pressure on House leaders to give us a vote on immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship.” Sharry replied.

Emily Gelbaum, a member of The Fair Immigration Reform Movement who helped to organize today’s protest told TRNS, “This is day one of six weeks of real escalation and real hard pushing to make sure that they [lawmakers] have citizenship on their mind throughout the August recess.”

“Then when they get back they give us a vote on citizenship,” said Gelbaum.

Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have rejected bringing the immigration reform bill passed in the Senate to the floor for a vote. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) has reiterated many times that if Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) would allow a vote comprehensive immigration reform would pass.

“I assure you that today, at this moment, that if a vote were called for comprehensive immigration reform there are more than 218 votes,” Gutierrez said. “The Speaker merely has to allow democracy…allowing a majority of the majority of the House to vote.”

Gutierrez has been critical of Boehner’s intention to adhere to the Hastert rule, a guideline that prevents the Speaker from bringing the bill to the floor for a vote unless it will be passed with a Republican majority.

“Let the majority vote in the House of Representatives and there will be fairness and there will be justice and we will respect the will,” Gutierrez said.

According Gutierrez, the Republicans in the House who favor a piecemeal approach do not constitute the majority. He said that it is unjust for 30 percent of Republicans to control the future of immigration reform.

“It is more important to have an American solution rather than a party solution,” Gutierrez said.

Over the August recess, Gutierrez is slated to visit several cities to rally support for comprehensive immigration reform. He plans to meet with members of Congress and, as Gutierrez describes, people from both side of the “economic engine,” those that create economic activity include both employers and workers.

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