A project of the Center for Community Change

Immigrant Children Stage Sit-Ins at House GOP Offices to Demand Vote on Comprehensive Immigration Reform this Year

For Immediate Release: Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013

Contact:  Donna De La Cruz, ddelacruz@communitychange.org, 202-339-9331, 202-441-3798 (cell)

Capitol Police Officer Yells at Them for Singing, Threatens Arrest

WASHINGTON – Nearly 50 children staged peaceful protests in Republican congressional offices today to ask members of Congress to pass immigration reform that will keep their families together. As one group of children sang Christmas carols in front of Speaker Boehner’s locked office door, a Capitol Police officer ordered them to stop singing and threatened to arrest them.

“This is a place of business and we do not sing in the hallway. Comprende?,” the officer said. Then, adding a few seconds later, “This is getting old real fast. I’m done. I’m going to start making arrests.”

As Gabriel Arista, 6, with North Carolina’s Latin American Coalition astutely commented, “We did not see that man’s good side today.”

The children are part of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement’s (FIRM) Youth In Action campaign, having traveled from across the country to tell their personal stories directly to Congress. During the visits today, the kids were often ignored by congressional staff, but they did get to speak directly with Republican Reps. Scott Tipton of Colorado and Michael Grimm of New York.

Esteban Verdugo, 11, from Kalamazoo, MI told Tipton: “The holidays are really hard for me since my dad was deported in June. I’m scared that my stepdad could be next. It’s Christmas time and while most families are together, immigrant families like mine continue to be separated. We need to pass immigration reform now.”

Jenny Azucena, also 11, traveled to D.C. with her parents and siblings from New York. She had the opportunity to share her story with Grimm. Jenny and her brothers and sisters are U.S. citizens but both of her parents are undocumented. They all live in fear that their family could be torn apart.

Other members of Congress turned their back on the youth activists, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), whose staff called Capitol police when the children attempted to get a meeting with him. Staffers in Rep. Buck McKeon’s (R-CA) office also called police.

“The Republican Party has lost its heart. Even the Grinch grew a heart, but not Speaker Boehner and the House Republicans,” said Verdugo.


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