Thousands of supporters of immigration reform gathered in Washington, D.C., on April 10, with the main event of the day being the Citizenship for 11 Million rally held on the West Lawn of the Capitol. The Washington Post reported that the rally was co-sponsored by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and CASA of Maryland, identified as an “immigrant advocacy group.”
The rally came shortly before the anticipated unveiling of the immigration legislation package crafted by the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators.
“We’ve been through this before, but this time it’s different,” Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA of Maryland, told attendees at the Washington rally. “We are different, and Washington is different. The politicians can’t ignore us now. We will become citizens, and we will vote.”
A report from CBS News observed that many attendees at the rally carried hand-lettered signs and chanted "Si, se puede," Spanish for "Yes, we can."
"We won't win immigration reform just coming to Washington. We need to walk the streets all over the country," Ben Monterroso, national director of civic participation for the SEIU, told the crowd.
Similar rallies were held this week in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. All followed a similar theme, calling for amnesty for illegal immigrants, described less obviously as a “pathway to citizenship.”
An online program of events posted on the rally website stated that a goal of the event was to see “tens of thousands of immigrants and supporters unite in support of common sense immigration reform now that includes citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people living in this country.”
The co-masters of ceremony of the event were the above-mentioned Gustavo Torres and Jaime Contreras, vice-president of SEIU’s New York-based Local 32BJ, the latter showcasing the union’s prominent role in immigration political lobbying. Among a lengthy list of political figures addressing the rally were Senator Robert Menendez (D.-N.J., a “Gang of Eight” member) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D.-Ill.) described as “long-time champions of immigrant rights.” Since those who have emigrated legally to our nation have no need for a special “path to citizenship,” it can be presumed that Menendez and Gutierrez are long-time champions of illegal immigrants’ rights.
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Photo of immigration reform rally in Washington, D.C., April 10: AP Images