More journalists than activists turned out for the start of a rally for immigration reform on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall Tuesday morning staged by labor unions and pro-amnesty organizations. The event was aimed at warning Republicans in the House of Representatives to pass an immigration bill that includes a “path to citizenship” for illegal aliens or face the wrath of Hispanic and progressive voters in their districts.
Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) told the gathering that the piecemeal approach preferred by House Republicans, as an alternative to the “comprehensive” bill passed by the Senate last month, was unacceptable, saying that some of the separate provisions turn immigrants into “criminals.” (She did not specify whether she meant illegal immigrants.) She demanded a House vote on the Senate bill–a matter of some debate among Democrats.
Other speakers made the same demand, blaming Republican leaders for the immigration impasse. One labor leader warned Republicans that “they will be branded” as anti-immigrant if the House failed to pass an immigration reform bill with a “path to citizenship.” Ready-made signs held by the small crowd repeated that message: one featured the GOP elephant and the slogan: “Road to Extinction OR Road to Citizenship.”
Members of the clergy who joined the event applauded many of the barbs aimed at Republicans in general and at House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in particular, the highest-ranking Republican in California. As latecomers trickled in, the number of protestors at City Hall swelled to roughly seventy, opposite about fifty journalists and a phalanx of television cameras. Chants of “¡Si, se puede!” punctuated the speeches.
Organizers announced a program of future demonstrations, including an Aug. 14 march on Rep. McCarthy’s Bakersfield office, which they said would include thousands of illegal immigrants, including farm workers from around the region. Further events would be scheduled through the beginning of October, they said, vowing to greet Republican members of Congress with protests at local town hall meetings nationwide.