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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.