News / USA

US Capital Prepares for Major Immigration Rally

Denise Villagomez, a union member, writes on a sign as she and other volunteers prepare for Wednesday's immigration reform rally at the Service Employees International Union, which is co-organizing the event, in Washington, April 9, 2013.
Denise Villagomez, a union member, writes on a sign as she and other volunteers prepare for Wednesday's immigration reform rally at the Service Employees International Union, which is co-organizing the event, in Washington, April 9, 2013.
Jaime Contreras hasn’t eaten much lately. He’s been too busy preparing for Wednesday’s “All in for Citizenship” rally expected to draw tens of thousands of immigration activists to the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

Contreras, vice president of SEIU 32BJ, the local chapter of the powerful Service Employees International Union, says the rally is a call to action for Congress to stop treating the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. like second class citizens.

“We’re going to have tens of thousands of people in front of the nation’s capital, sending a message, reminding our elected leaders that last November, our community spoke loud and clear that we voted and we voted for immigration reform,” he said.

The Hispanic community was a massive force in the 2012 elections, an increasingly powerful electorate whose demands for immigration reform have become difficult for lawmakers to ignore.

It’s not the first time activists have rallied for an overhaul of the U.S. immigration system. Similar marches took place in 2006, only to have a reform bill collapse in the Senate in 2007.

This time is different, according to Contreras.

“Republicans have come to a realization that the immigrant community is growing, that it’s vibrant, a hard working community that contributes to the country just like everybody else,” he said. “And for the first time, we have Republicans and Democrats trying to figure out who’s taking the credit.”

Chief among the movement’s demands is a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants and an end to the deportations that have divided hundreds of thousands of families in recent years. They’re issues that stir strong emotions on both sides, and counter-protests are planned for Wednesday.

Jim McDonald, a resident of Arlington, Virginia, will be part of the opposition. He identifies himself as an “interested American.”

“I’m an interested American because it’s outrageous that we’ve got people demanding citizenship that aren’t even supposed to be in the country illegally and they’re going to be on Capitol Hill doing it. It's a personal affront to me,” he said.

McDonald plans to carry photos he took at the border between the U.S. state of Arizona and Mexico, a frontier he describes as porous.

Border security is a key point of the Congressional debate over immigration reform. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who is part of the bi-partisan team drafting a reform bill, is pushing for assurances that the border be secured before undocumented immigrants can begin gaining citizenship. The Obama administration says the southwestern border is tighter than it’s ever been.

Among the thousands who will be rallying on Capitol Hill are immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents. Their plight has transformed the conversation from strictly a policy issue to a personal dilemma.

Contreras, who gained citizenship in 1996 while serving in the U.S. Navy, understands the dilemma. His parents brought him undocumented to the U.S. in 1988, when a war was raging in their home country, El Salvador.

“They brought me here because they didn’t want me to get killed,” he said. “I think any parent who does that for their kids should not be a criminal. And any kid who comes here at no fault of their own should not be a criminal.”

Still, McDonald and others like him aren’t swayed.

“I don’t think it’s my problem to straighten out what their parents did. The parents should be responsible for what to do with their kids. It’s their problem. It’s not our problem as a nation to resolve that kind of an issue,” he said.

The senators tasked with resolving the issue are expected to present their draft legislation to Congress next week.

You May Like

Photogallery WHO Expects Ebola Vaccine Surge in 2015

Official says ‘a few hundred thousand doses’ could be ready by June; 2 drugs already in trial More

Video Islamic State Militants Advance Toward Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focused on Holding Ground in Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to the success of their movement, despite confrontations with angry residents, anti-protest groups and police More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid