Pro-Immigration Demonstrations: A Reminder to Obama of a Campaign Promise

One day after Pres. Barack Obama’s inauguration, demonstrations were held across the country to remind the president of his promise to address immigration reform in the first year of his administration. Protesters in Washington D.C. and several other cities also called for an immediate end to government raids aimed a rounding up undocumented immigrants.


Demonstrators in San Antonio (Photo: Express-News)

“Immigrants who lent President Barack Obama their support at the ballot box joined those who cannot vote in marches and prayers, writing letters and raising banners from Miami to Los Angeles to push the issue to the top of Obama’s long to-do list,” The Associated PressJuliana Barbassa reported.

The demonstrations were more of a friendly reminder to the new president from activists who don’t want the issue to be forgotten in the din of the economic crisis. “He was the one who told us that you can dream big,” Altagracia Garcia, 25, told Barbassa at a pre-dawn vigil in front of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in Los Angeles, where demonstrators lit candles and called for and end to immigration enforcement raids.

“Immigrant advocates know their nativist opponents plan to deploy online organizing and viral communication to counter any attempts at immigration reform this year. They intend to seize every opportunity to build momentum on their side,” Marcelo Ballvé wrote for New America Media after covering the demonstration in front of ICE national headquarters in Washington D.C.

“It’s an opportunity to celebrate, but also to point forward to the great need for immigration reform in the months ahead,” Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, told Ballvé.

The D.C. demonstration featured religious leaders from across the country who conducted a “cleansing” of the ICE building in a symbolic attempt to steer the agency away from the enforcement-only approach that’s been highly criticized by pro-immigrant groups.

Activists also “urged Obama to make good on his campaign promise to push through a legalization plan similar to one that former president George W. Bush twice tried unsuccessfully to get through Congress,” The Washington Post reported.

About two dozen people prayed in front of the ICE office in Atlanta to call

In San Antonio, local protesters were joined by others from Austin in front of the ICE building. “Just like he promised to close Guantánamo Bay, we want him to close down Hutto with detained little children,” said Luissana Santibáñez, of the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition, referring to the ICE family detention center northeast of Austin, according to the San Antonio Express-News. The T. Don Hutto Family Detention Center has been strongly criticized for the treatment detained families receive there. (Obama yesterday signed an order to close the detention camp in Guantanamo Bay within a year.)

In San Francisco, immigrants and their allies surprised attendees to the opening night gala of the San Francisco Ballet, the Chronicle reported. “With the new administration, there’s hope; that’s why we’re here,” said protester Lulu Rodriguez, 28.

The Chronicle’s Tyche Hendricks added,

As Ballet supporters sipped wine in the City Hall rotunda, the voices of the protesters singing Mexican folk songs outside the mayor’s office echoed off the building’s stone walls.

Obama’s hometown also saw calls for him to start working on immigration reform. Members of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities held a press conference where they announced a letter to President Obama calling for changes. “They want a halt on all residential and workplace raids as well as stopping immigration enforcement that results in the separation of US children from their immigrant parents,” WLS-TV reported.

Other protests were held in New York, San José and Indio, Ca.

“We want him to comply with his promise of legalization for everybody,” Sylvia Cardona, a Comité Latino member, told The Desert Sun in Indio. “Latinos are putting their hopes in Obama.”


  1. Buzzm1

    Comment deleted for not contributing to a mature debate of issues related to this post. Please refrain from using all caps and try to maintain a civil tone.

    Diego Graglia, Feet in 2 Worlds web editor

  2. Protector

    Comment deleted for not contributing to a mature debate of issues related to this post.

    Diego Graglia, Feet in 2 Worlds web editor

  3. jameel

    I am a strong advocate of allowing immigrants from Mexico into the U.S. Historically speaking, much of the West Coast is theirs. They have a long legacy in that region of the U.S. So what right does this government have to deny them a right to share in it, especially since it was stolen from them anyway. America needs to adopt a foreign policy concerning Mexico that is more inclusive. It must remember the history. What goes around comes around. Do unto others what you would have done unto yourself. Live by the sword, die by it. If you don’t want your land and possessions taken from you, don’t take from somebody else. America has all that it has because it has taken from people all over the earth. And now that it has enjoyed the fruits of other peoples labor, it does not want to share the same. This will ultimately come back on America. This nation needs to really take a deep look at itself, at what it is doing to its own future. At some point it is going to have to find a better way of treating those that it has taken advantage of to be where it is, or it will have a terrible fall, and there will be no one willing to help it get back up. Think about it.

  4. There’s no doubt that immigration is a problem – whether Latino or Asian. And it’s a problem because of the ethical issues concerned. I understand about legality and all that. But when “illegals” are paying taxes (and there are), and whose children were born in the States (which makes the children American citizens by default because of the law that follows Jus Soli), what do you do then, exactly?

    For some reason, I kinda liked what Huckabee (not sure of the spelling) proposed about giving scholarships to children of illegal immigrants who excell in school. The reasoning behind the proposal was to help these children become productive citizens and tax payers who can help their parents become legal citizens. Hopefully, this proposal is kept in the mix.

    Unfortunately, there are so many other pressing issues the country is faced with such as the economy, the war, the middle east conflict etc. Whether or not immigration can be dealt with this year is still an uncertainty, I think.

  5. @ Coffee. With the closing of Guantanamo you are speaking of. There are rumors that terrorists/illegal immigrants are now being released into a town in Massachusetts. Have you heard anything on the subject?

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