With legislation stalled in the House, frustrated immigration activists are taking direct action to confront Congress.
House Speaker John Boehner is a creature of habit. He eats breakfast almost every morning at the cramped counter of Pete’s Diner in Washington D.C. So it wasn’t too hard for Jenni Martinez, a 16 year old immigrant from Redmond, to track him down.
Martinez and Arizona 13-year-old Carmen Lima confronted Boehner over his oatmeal this morning with personal stories of how existing immigration policy had negatively impacted their families. Both girls described their experiences of being separated from their fathers.
“I’m trying to find some way to get this thing done,” Boehner responded. “It’s, you know, not easy, it’s not an easy path forward. But I’ve made it clear since the day after the election it’s time to get this done.”
In a press conference just a few hours later, Boehner stifled hope of further progress on immigration reform this year, saying that the House would not enter negotiations on the bill passed by the Senate back in June.
Meanwhile, around the country immigrants and activists have launched a direct action campaign to pressure reluctant members of Congress to move on immigration reform.
Last Thursday 33 women, including Peggy Lynn, wife of Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, were arrested in a protest at the state’s Republican Party Headquarters in Bellevue. The previous day 150 people, including priests and elected officials, blocked a street in front of a Chicago Immigration and Customs Enforcement office and were arrested.
In Spokane a group organized by One America is demonstrating today outside the office of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers, one of three Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation who haven’t expressed support for the immigration reform bill.
One America youth program organizer Maha Jahshan said twelve of those protestors are committing acts of civil disobedience and risking arrest.
“People are not afraid to step up, they’re not afraid to talk about why this is so crucial,” Jahshan said of the action. “Families are being separated. These are people’s lives and we shouldn’t waffle on that.”