Despite the closing of the National Mall due to the government shutdown, the National Park Service allowed the Tuesday, Oct. 8 immigration rally to continue as planned. The event was granted the First Amendment right to organize.
Banners scattered around the perimeter of the park informed passersby that the area was closed due to the government shutdown. However, organizers of the immigration rally, known as the Camino Americano: March for Dignity and Respect, were seen setting up stages Monday.
Around the country
The Tuesday demonstrations were scheduled to complement Saturday’s series of national rallies in support of immigration reform. According the Washington Post, Saturday was deemed a “National Day for Dignity and Respect” as a way to draw attention back to the stalled immigration debate in Congress. Activist Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez argued that national rallies are just as much for the nation’s immigrants as they are for lawmakers.
“It’s about immigrants seeing that there are other immigrants out there, and that we are active members of our democracy,” Sousa-Rodriguez told the Post. “A lot of people feel isolated, and when you see all these marchers, that gives you hope and the energy to join them.”
At the rally
Several activist groups, as well as members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. and Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill, were expected to attend. Names of those who died trying to cross the U.S.-Mexican border were read, followed by a performance by the band Los Tigres Del Norte and other musical artists, who performed at the rally to show support for the cause. After the rally, demonstrators marched to the Capitol Building in an act of civil disobedience.
On Capitol Hill
Many have lost hope that reforms will be passed this year. With the shutdown taking up the attention of lawmakers, finding the time and urgency to address immigration reforms has become difficult.