Four hundred activists for immigration reform turned out for a rally in Bakersfield, California Wednesday at the district office of Republican Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy. Though organizers had promised upwards of 5,000 demonstrators, the turnout was significantly lower than expected.
The event had been billed as the centerpiece of “Action August,” a month-long campaign on immigration reform by progressive activists.
Still, the crowd endured 99-degree heat to listen to speeches by union leaders, DREAMers, and community organizers. Speech after speech warned Rep. McCarthy that he and other Republicans would be targeted if they fail to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
“Representative McCarthy, we are not gonna take no for an answer!” said one speaker. “Are you on the side of Steve King or on the side of the American people?”
Most of the participants were Mexican in origin, and one speaker even led a chant of “¡Viva Mexico!” before recognizing a large American flag that some demonstrators were carrying at the edge of the crowd. Other participants included contingents from the Filipino community, the Indian community, the Jewish community, and more than a dozen progressive activist groups.
The rally planned a march to Rep. McCarthy’s office door, where about two dozen counter-demonstrators had gathered in anticipation, waving signs that said, “No Amnesty” and “Stop Illegal Immigration.”
Lee Stranahan and Chris Caplan contributed to this report.