Downtown St. Louis – More than 125 protesters, union members, immigrants, activists and clergy rallied outside the Thomas F. Eagleton Federal Courthouse here to call on U.S. Reps. Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin) and Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-St. Elizabeth) to allow a vote on comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. House before Congress dismisses for the year.
The Senate passed a bill in June that would provide a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally and tighten border security, but the measure has stalled in the House where Republican leaders have argued for a piecemeal approach.
Members of Metropolitan Congregations United (MCU), Missouri Pro-Vote, MIRA-MO, Young Activists St. Louis (YSTL), Missouri Jobs With Justice, the Missouri AFL-CIO, Missouri Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA), CBTU, Inter-faith Committee on Latin America (IFCLA), MORE, and SEIU were among the faith groups, community organizations and unions that turned out at the Nov. 4 protest.
Six people were arrested for sitting in the street in front of the courthouse, but were later released.
A BROKEN SYSTEM
A representative from Rep. William Lacy Clay’s (D-St. Louis) office spoke at the rally in support of a vote for comprehensive immigration reform that includes citizenship—and listened as several speakers shared stories about the costs of our broken immigration system.
Norma Andrade, who recently achieved citizenship after a long and difficult process, spoke about how undocumented status makes surviving domestic violence situations even tougher when risk of deportation adds to the pressures faced.
A young immigrant, Bibi Alberto called on members of Congress to do what’s right. As an undocumented immigrant who has been in this country for 10 of her 13 years, St. Louis is Alberto’s home.
Since 2010, Gamaliel, a national network of grassroots, faith-based affiliates, has been participating in events to draw attention to the issue of comprehensive immigration reform. Starting with weekly prayer vigils in front of the offices of members of Congress, the campaign has now escalated to a series of civil disobedience actions, in coalition with other social justice organizations.
Protests also took place last week in South Bend IN, and St. Paul MN.
LOWER STANDARD OF LIVING
Protesters also rallied outside Wagner’s office on Nov. 1.
At that rally, UFCW Local 655 President David Cook summed up the situation for working families.
“As long as we allow immigrant workers to be exploited at the work site and work for slave wages, it allows the standard of living for all Americans to be lowered,” Cook said. “The time to change this is now. We want a vote.”