Thousands of pro-immigration reform supporters are set to rally in Washington, D.C., on April 10. Called the “National Rally for Citizenship,” the march on the mall of the U.S. Capitol comes after news that an immigration bill would be finalized at the end of this week. The rally is timed accordingly to put pressure on legislators and public opinion, in the hopes that the “Gang of Eight” will release a bill sooner rather than later. More than 400 buses will bring demonstrators to the Capitol, where they’ll urge Congress to find a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
“Every time you turn around, there’s growing momentum for making this happen,” Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, told USA Today. “They’re voting, they’re marching, they’re dealing with their legislators to get their government to fix their broken immigration system.”
Marches, candlelight vigils and campaigning door-to-door are just some of the efforts seen across the nation to promote the immigration reform bill. Wednesday’s rally of about 100 organizations is sponsored by immigration reform groups and unions, including the United Auto Workers and the Henry’s Service Employees International Union.
“The rally is really an effort to make sure our legislators understand just how critical immigration reform is to our communities,” Kica Matos, director of immigrant rights and racial justice for the Center for Community Change, told MSNBC.
Seen as a grassroots-style attempt to raise awareness for comprehensive immigration reform, this issue has been mobilized since early February. Organizers hope Wednesday’s rally will open a new phase in the campaign. It is said to feature speeches from immigration rights advocates, labor leaders, faith organizations and members of Congress working on immigration legislation. The keynote address will be delivered by Benjamin Jealous, president of the NAACP. Over the course of the day, MSNBC reports that there will be at least 40 different rallies echoing the same motion in different cities across the country.
Not only will advocates and leaders make speeches, immigrants who long for citizenship will also share their stories. One of these individuals, Rosa Gonzales, told WWLP, an NBC news affiliate, that she’s ready for a long day of protests. She says that the entire day will be worth it if it means a closer path to citizenship for her and her family.
“This is my home,” Gonzalez said. “It’s my kids home – and we’re walking towards citizenship.”
Matos inferred that the day would be full of newsworthy events, and she’s confident that something will come out of the rally.
“We are going to pray, we are going to rally, we are going to protest, we are going to get arrested for civil disobedience,” Matos said. “We are not going to give up until we have comprehensive immigration reform.”
Although there is a firm push for immigration reform, not everyone supports the rally for citizenship. A number of Republicans in Congress generally support a path to legal status but are reluctant to embrace a plan for citizenship because they say it rewards people who broke the law, and lets immigrants who are illegally living in the U.S. “cut the line” to becoming fully documented. However, supporters like Victor Palifox, 21, and his 17-year-old brother Jose Perez, will march confidently on Washington to help their parents.
“I’m going to Washington, D.C., to stand up for my family,” said Perez, according to ABC News. “To have comprehensive immigration reform that not only includes us the dreamers, but also our parents.”
According to reports from MSNBC, rallies are expected to occur throughout the nation over the course of the next few months.