SEIU International leaders Andy Stern, Eliseo Medina and SEIU member leader Athena Jones stood shoulder-to-shoulder with 200,000 immigrants, union members and activists on Sunday for a rally on the National Mall to demand Congress pass immigration reform. "Those who lead on immigration reform will be rewarded on Election Day, and those who stand in the way will be sent home," said Medina. "It's time for our leaders to step up and do the right thing."
March for America is being reported as the biggest political mobilization since President Obama's inauguration a year ago.
Holding flags and handmade signs carrying messages such as "No Human Being is Illegal," "We Work for America," and "Workers, Taxpayers, Voters for Reform," yesterday's marchers lifted their voices so that Congress could hear: we want immigration reform and we want it now.
"Building a 21st century economy where dreams come true is not about Democrats or Republicans or left and right; fixing our broken immigration system is about what is right and wrong for a great nation," said Andy Stern. "Now is the time for to make America a great nation once again and to make the dream of everyone's children still come true. That is the American Dream and why we love this country."
During the march, President Obama addressed the crowd through a videotaped message, saying he would do everything within his power to forge a bipartisan consensus on immigration reform this year. Sen. Menendez (D-NJ), Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Nydia Velasquez (D-NY) and a host of other Congressional Hispanic Caucus members joined the call for action, telling the crowd that the time is now.
Change Takes Courage
To escalate pressure for immigration reform after yesterday's historic march, we need to be reaching out to our Senators and members of Congress to demand legislative action for immigration reform. If our elected lawmakers won't choose courage over hate, we'll elect people who will. Medina spoke on raising the stakes yesterday, saying "On May 1, we're going to issue a report card to show who is standing with us and who is standing against us."
Comprehensive immigration reform will add $1.5 trillion to the U.S. economy, drive up wages for all workers, and support nearly a million jobs. Call on Congress for smart, bold immigration solutions that restore fairness and strengthen our economy.
For a list of the impassioned speakers who shared their words to rally support for comprehensive immigration reform, check out the Reform Immigration For America blog here. More march coverage (including interviews with SEIU members at the rally) in the OC Register, the NY Times and the Washington Times.
More photos after the break.
Watch our highlights video from March for America here.