Politics

‘They have all the power’: Thousands rally to demand Democrats deliver on pathway to citizenship

Advocacy group CASA said in a press release received by Daily Kos that the “Welcome Back Congress” march demanded Congressional leaders ensure that legalization continues to remain a priority and key part of the reconciliation package, “as well as investments in the care economy, and green infrastructure that will help fight climate change are delivered.”

“As members of both the House and Senate come back from August recess it is critical that Congress recognize that investing in citizenship, care, and climate justice is necessary,” CASA continued. “Immigrants, caregivers, and climate change have played and will continue to play a large role in the U.S.’ economic and social recovery. Congress must deliver on their promises and address the issues that disproportionately affect communities of color.”

100 percent. 
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Thousands of demonstrators rally in the street outside Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters while demanding a pathway to citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States on September 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. Activists, union leaders, organizers and political leaders addressed the marchers as they rallied outside ICE headquarters and the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
“Welcome Back Congress” demonstrators protest in front of ICE headquarters on Tuesday before rallying in support of legalization in the budget reconciliation package

Senate staffer Elizabeth MacDonough’s political, non-binding opinion last week in opposition to including legalization in the package was undeniably deeply painful to millions of immigrants depending on permanent relief now. Reyna Montoya, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient and community leader from Arizona, told KJZZ it was “heartbreaking.” Allies were also pissed off, with America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry telling The Washington Post that MacDonough’s opinion “amounted to a ‘middle finger’ and ‘smacked of showboating.’”

“If the parliamentarian is determined to get to no, then the question is, well, Democrats are the elected majority, and not a staff attorney—what do they plan to do?” Sharry continued.

Congressional Democrats had said they were prepared for a possible negative opinion from MacDonough, and had alternatives to present to her. But some advocates—and even at least one legislator present at the rally on Tuesday—have urged Democrats including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who was also a speaker at the rally, to go at it alone. Worried that that proposed alternatives may water down relief, or that MacDonough will not budge, they’ve reiterated that her opinion is not binding, and 50 Democrats plus Vice President Kamala Harris can overrule her.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Thousands of demonstrators from across the country march to the U.S. Capitol as they demand a pathway to citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States on September 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. Activists, union leaders, organizers and political leaders addressed the marchers as they rallied outside the headquarters of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Demonstrator holds sign reading, “Elizabeth MacDonough, how do you sleep at night?”
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Thousands of demonstrators march toward Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters while demanding a pathway to citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States on September 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. Activists, union leaders, organizers and political leaders addressed the marchers as they rallied outside ICE headquarters and the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
“Welcome Back Congress” rally on Tuesday in support of legalization in the budget reconciliation package
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Thousands of demonstrators march toward Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters while demanding a pathway to citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States on September 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. Activists, union leaders, organizers and political leaders addressed the marchers as they rallied outside ICE headquarters and the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
United Farm Workers and allies march in the “Welcome Back Congress” rally on Tuesday in support of legalization in the budget reconciliation package
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Thousands of demonstrators from across the country rally on the National Mall demanding a pathway to citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States on September 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. Activists, union leaders, organizers and political leaders addressed the marchers as they rallied outside the headquarters of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
“Welcome Back Congress” rally on Tuesday in support of legalization in the budget reconciliation package
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Demonstrators from across the country rally and march in support of a pathway to citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States on September 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. Activists, union leaders, organizers and political leaders addressed the marchers as they rallied outside the headquarters of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
“Welcome Back Congress” rally on Tuesday in support of legalization in the budget reconciliation package

“We are here to remind Democrats, like Senate Majority Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, President Biden, Vice President Harris, that they have all the power—all the power—to deliver to our communities. No excuses,” Arizona DACA recipient Arisaid said in a video shared by immigrant youth advocacy group United We Dream. She noted that while she and her brother are protected by the policy, her parents remain at risk due to their status. But Arisaid and her brother are also under threat because DACA itself under threat, following a ruling from an anti-immigrant federal judge in Texas in July.

“Democrats vowed to protect my family and millions more who have been forced to live their lives in constant state of uncertainty and fear,” she continued. “This is why I refuse to accept anything less than citizenship for millions of undocumented people, including my parents.”

“Lawmaker speeches began almost immediately—with a rousing oration by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who excoriated Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough for her controversial decision that leaked Sunday against including a legalization program for eight million immigrants in the Democrats’ budget reconciliation bill,” Pablo Manriquez reported for Latino Rebels. “In her remarks, Omar called on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to disregard the Parliamentarian’s decision,” he continued. He reported that Schumer was the keynote speaker at the rally, though he didn’t appear to directly address overruling MacDonough’s opinion.

“So I was very angered and saddened and frustrated by the Parliamentarian’s decision, but are we gonna stop?” Manriquez reports Schumer told the crowd. He said the crowd enthusiastically responded that it wasn’t going to stop. “Senator Padilla, Senator Menendez, Senator Durbin, Senator Luján, Senator Cortez Masto, all of us are meeting in a few hours and we will go back and fight some more,” Schumer continued. “So I will say to all of you: the combination of the grass-root strength and the friends you have in the Senate means together we will not be defeated.”

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) addresses thousands of demonstrators from across the country as they rally in support of a pathway to citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States on the National Mall on September 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. Activists, union leaders, organizers and political leaders addressed the marchers as they rallied outside the headquarters of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks at the “Welcome Back Congress” rally on Tuesday in support of legalization in the budget reconciliation package
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) addresses thousands of demonstrators from across the country as they rally in support of a pathway to citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States on the National Mall on September 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. Activists, union leaders, organizers and political leaders addressed the marchers as they rallied outside the headquarters of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Sen. Alex Padilla speaks at the “Welcome Back Congress” rally on Tuesday in support of legalization in the budget reconciliation package
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) (C) addresses thousands of demonstrators from across the country with Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) (R) as they rally in support of a pathway to citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States on the National Mall on September 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. Activists, union leaders, organizers and political leaders addressed the marchers as they rallied outside the headquarters of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks at the “Welcome Back Congress” rally on Tuesday in support of legalization in the budget reconciliation package
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Rep. Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia (D-IL) embraces a supporter during rally in support of a pathway to citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States on September 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. Activists, union leaders, organizers and political leaders addressed the marchers as they rallied outside the headquarters of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Rep. Chuy Garcia embraces a demonstrator at the “Welcome Back Congress” rally on Tuesday in support of legalization in the budget reconciliation package

“This is about much more than process and procedures. This is about real people,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley told the crowd, The Post reported. Manriquez, among the scant reporters who covered the event, reported that the massive size of the rally surprised even organizers. He reported demonstrators rallied at “the same location where, on Saturday, a tiny group of less than 50 far-right extremists staged a ‘Justice for J6’ rally that drew way more press after a weeklong coverage blitz in mainstream media outlets.” It must again be stated that Tuesday’s rally for immigration also featured a slate of Congressional leaders. But perhaps that was still too boring for some members of the press. “Asked by Latino Rebels for a crowd count, a rally organizer said, ‘I don’t know, but this is way bigger than we expected,’” Manriquez continued.




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