Calling February 11 a day of action, activists staged protests in approximately three dozen Congressional offices on Wednesday. The group urged Congressional Republicans to stop separating families and to “stop playing politics with the lives of immigrant children and families”.
Hundreds of activists demonstrated in multiple House and Senate offices, targeting hard-line anti-immigrant Republicans. The protests took aim at high ranking Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The group also went after notable anti-immigration hardliners like Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions and Iowa Congressman Steve King.
The activists photographed their efforts and spread their message across Twitter, under the hashtag, #GOPMoveOver. The protesters flooded the offices of GOP members of Congress, expressing opposition to the so-called “SAFE Act”, and support for Obama’s recent executive order that would offer some protections for immigrant families.
The SAFE (Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement) Act was first introduced in June 2014, as H.R. 2278, by Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). The national measure is patterned after Arizona’s controversial SB 1070, and it would call for expanded law enforcement, more detentions and harsher penalties for undocumented immigrants. The measure would also authorize deportation for DREAMers, children who were brought to the U.S. through no fault of their own.
The protests mostly seemed to catch Senators and Representatives off guard. The Center for Community Change reported on Twitter that at least five activists were arrested. Protesters were escorted out off several offices by police. Idaho Representative Raul Labrador, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, and Texas Senator John Cornyn, all reportedly, had police escort demonstrators out of their offices.
Immigration remains a hot-button political issue, especially within the Republican Party. In deep red Congressional Districts, Republican politicians exploit anti-immigrant sentiment to gin up their mostly white base. However, this strategy tends to undermine the national Republican ticket in presidential years because it alienates Latino voters in pivotal swing states like Colorado, Florida, and Nevada.
Wednesdays’ demonstrations serve as a reminder that the Republican Party continues to take positions that lack compassion for immigrants. They can call police to remove demonstrators from their Capitol Hill offices, but that does nothing to address the failures of Republican policy. Nor does it improve their chances of winning a national election in 2016.
Image via Twitter
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.