Over 250,000 people rallied today in the National Mall of Washington, DC, to demand president Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to pass an Immigration Reform in the United States. People from all across the U.S. gathered in the biggest popular rally since Obama took office.
Photos and videos by Carlos A. Quiroz
Immigration Reform is coming. One way or another, it's coming.
Today I saw the future of this country in the faces of hundreds of thousands of people rallying in support of an Immigration Reform, a pending bill seating in the bureaucratic U.S. Congress that is voting today on Health Care Reform.
Early on today, I met with several friends at the National Museum of the American Indian, where we held a brief pray for all families divided by a racist and obsolete legislation that keeps repressing the poorest of this nation.
We prayed for the children and parents who are incarcerated, abused, deported every day. We prayed for those fighting for justice for all immigrants. We prayed for strength.
Then we walked to the rally.
What a nice surprise to see so many people, chanting, singing, demanding justice and the reform of an obsolete legislation. I met friends and people who came from the Virginia and Maryland suburbs, as well as cities of Alabama, Illinois, Ohio, New York and North Carolina. The energy of the people attending reminded me of the historical 2006 Immigration rallies.
More than 250,000 people showed up. According to news reports, people came from as far as Nebraska, California, New York, Illinois. Some sources said that a many as 500,000 people rallied in DC, which makes sense.
Only in Maryland, the organization CASA brought over 50,000 people and this was one of hundreds of organizations, besides individuals and families that joined in their own effort. Among the thousands, there U.S. citizens of all races supporting the cause. However, the majority were Latinos, mostly Indigenous peoples.
One thing I didn't like about the rally was the presence of foreign flags, a Cuban American blogger for the Washington Post makes a good point, and I will blog about this.
President Obama sent a video message to the rally attendees, reassuring his commitment for an Immigration Reform this year. I interviewed Congress member Xavier Becerra (D-CA) and he confirmed that Obama wants to reform the current immigration legislation:
The event was very well organized but it was obvious that the response had surpassed all expectations. Hundreds of media reporters were there and I couldn't get a press pass since they run out of them. A well known activist gave me a press pass -some of the rally's organizers were hostile to this blogger, which I protest publicly.
I had the chance to meet and interview several people, including Congress members Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Xavier Becerra (D-CA) and civil rights leaders Rev. Jesse Jackson and Abuku Baraka, as well as the staff of Reform Immigration For America (RIFA) who were the rally's organizers (read their blog here), and several activists, undocumented immigrants and students advocating for the DREAM Act.
Anti immigrant media
Most TV news channels in the DC metro area have ignored the rally, obsessed with covering the Health Care Reform vote in Congress and plainly following an anti-immigrant pattern. It's very common for the mainstream media to report negatively on our immigrant communities, and they missed a great chance to cover a beautiful rally of hope and unity.
The usually anti-immigrant newspaper The Washington Post has posted a brief report online about today's amazing public demonstration of support for Immigration Reform and social justice. The little piece includes only seven (bad) photos showing immigrants waving foreign flags to the rally -which I oppose to- along this description:
If The Washington Post had the decency to cover the Immigration Reform rally with honesty and transparency, they would mention that an Immigration Reform would promote the creation of new jobs, businesses, and it would bring $1.5 trillion dollars to the U.S. economy in ten years, comparing with the $2.6 trillion dollars that would cost the deportation of all undocumented immigrants, besides the humanitarian crisis that such a disgraced action would cause.
Marvin Joseph-Washington Post
News coverage on the internet has been more accurate. RIFA's blog has an extensive list of links of the impact of the rally on the media.
Immigration Reform is coming
President Obama sent a video message to the people who rallied today, where he reassured his committment to pass an immigration overhaul by 2010. Last week, Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC) have introduced an initiative in the Senate for Immigration Reform.
The Schumer-Graham initiative includes four main measures:
Our plan has four pillars: requiring biometric Social Security cards to ensure that illegal workers cannot get jobs; fulfilling and strengthening our commitments on border security and interior enforcement; creating a process for admitting temporary workers; and implementing a tough but fair path to legalization for those already here.The odds of passing an Immigration Reform this year are little for many, but Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said yesterday that he expects the bill will be introduced to vote in Congress, after the November 2010 mid-term elections, when there is less political pressure to vote "for what is right" for America. In the two months before the new Congress takes office, an Immigration Reform bill could be passed.
Millions of people around the U.S. and the world are really hoping this bill will become a reality.