Immigration activists arrested at Capitol rally

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) spoke at a Build Back Better rally near the Capitol, where activists from the Center for Popular Democracy network, including groups like CASA, New York Communities for Change and Make the Road, urging the Senate to pass the bill with a pathway to citizenship before the holidays on Tuesday, Dec. 07, 2021 in Washington.
Joy Asico/AP Images for Center for Popular Democracy

The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for more than 200 groups in New York State, says over 1, 000 activists and multiple members of Congress rallied on Tuesday near the Capitol to call on the Senate to pass the Build Back Better bill before the holidays, as promised by Democratic leadership.

Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Jan Schakowsky, and Lou Correa spoke at the rally before 40 protestors occupied and were arrested in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, NYIC said.

“Democratic leadership in both the Senate and House have committed to delivering a robust investment in human infrastructure through the Build Back Better bill by the holidays,” it said. “The activists called on the Senate to ‘Bring it Home for the Holidays’ by passing a Build Back Better bill that contains the full investment that working people deserve.”

According to NYIC, activists specifically called for: Good care jobs; access to child care and universal pre-K; paid family leave; citizenship; green infrastructure; healthcare for all; and affordable housing.

“We came to our nation’s capital to remind Senate Majority Leader (Chuck) Schumer of his promise to deliver a pathway to citizenship,“ said Murad Awawdeh, NYIC’s executive director and FIRM Action co-chair.

“It’s time that the Majority Leader remember that he, not an unelected bureaucrat, has the power and responsibility to build a better vision of our country and secure a true recovery,” he added. “For 20 months, millions of immigrants have served on the front lines of a global pandemic, all while living under the constant threat of family separation.

“Now, our leaders need to listen to the majority of the American people and deliver on their promise of a roadmap to citizenship,” Awawdeh urged.

Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA) spoke at a Build Back Better rally near the Capitol, where activists from the Center for Popular Democracy network, including groups like CASA, New York Communities for Change and Make the Road, urging the Senate to pass the bill with a pathway to citizenship before the holidays on Tuesday, Dec. 07, 2021 in Washington. Joy Asico/AP Images for Center for Popular Democracy

Lucimara, a member of the National Domestic Workers Alliance’s worker council, whose last name was withheld, said: “As a domestic worker, I do the work that makes other work possible.

“Like thousands of undocumented domestic workers, I’ve continued working during the pandemic at personal risk, but if I don’t work, I can’t support my family,” she said. “The families I work for are counting on me and my work, so that their lives can continue to function.

“But despite my essential work, I live in the shadows, and I am more vulnerable to exploitation due to my immigration status,” Lucimara added. “I live in fear of being separated from my children constantly. Immigrant domestic workers like me deserve to work and live with dignity and safety.

“On behalf of undocumented domestic workers everywhere, I call on the Senate to invest in care and provide us with immigration protections and benefits through Build Back Better,” she continued.

“After years of putting food on the table of countless families, taking care of their children as if they were my own, and cleaning houses, I’m counting on Congress to deliver a path to citizenship. Immigrants are vital to this economy, and it’s time we are recognized for it,” said Erendira Zamacona, a member of Make the Road Pennsylvania, immigrant and domestic worker.

“Without immigrant workers, basic needs like food and care for millions would not be met,” she added. “To the Biden administration and the Senate, I say: we cannot afford more broken promises. The time is now to provide a pathway to citizenship for all.”

“Immigrants like me have had our homes and livelihoods destroyed by floods, hurricanes, wildfires, and encroaching deserts. We sought refuge in the US and have given back, working as essential workers and supporting the US economy during the pandemic. It’s time for the Senate to invest in immigrants and in bold climate solutions so that we all can thrive in the places we call home. Bring it home for the holidays, Senators – the people are counting on you,” said Graphya, a CASA member from Georgia.

“As a mother of two and a DACA recipient, what I want most is to remain together with my children, without the fear of being separated. For years, undocumented people have relentlessly fought for a pathway to citizenship, a permanent solution that we deserve and that will allow our communities to continue to thrive,” said Eliana Fernandez, member of Make the Road New York and a DACA recipient.

“We urge Sen. Schumer and Democratic leadership to use every tool at their disposal, including disregarding the parliamentarian’s advisory opinion, to keep their promises and get us to the finish line,” she added. “For our country to truly deliver an inclusive recovery, we must ensure that a path to citizenship is restored in the final version of the Build Back Better bill.”

Besides NYIC, participating groups included The Center for Popular Democracy; Make the Road Pennsylvania; Make the Road Connecticut; Make the Road Nevada; Make the Road New York; CASA; FIRM Action; 32BJ SEIU; SPACEs in Action; National Domestic Workers Alliance; Minkwon; NICE; Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; We Are Home; Dominican Development Center; Brazilian Women’s Group; Unidad Latina in Action – CT; Dreamers Moms in Action; Comunidades sin Fronteras; CUSP (UndocuBlack, Adhikaar, National Network of Arab American Communities, Haitian Bridge Alliance, African Communities Together); VOCES de la Frontera; Michigan United; and CHIRLA.

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