Thousands of protesters descended on Washington DC on March 21st to remind President Obama of his promise to make sweeping immigration reform a priority during his first year in office.
During the Protest, Obama tried to reassure immigration reform advocates with a video message, projected on giant screens surrounding the National Mall. In the video, the President restated his pledge to work with Congress to reform the “broken immigration system.” Obama’s stated:
“…Events like these remind us that real change doesn’t start in the White House or the halls of Congress. It starts with people like you in communities across this country, standing up and making your voices heard… I’ve always pledged to be your partner as we work to fix our broken immigration system and that’s a commitment that I reaffirm today. Nobody knows the cost of inaction better than you. You see it in the families that are torn apart and the small business owners who try to do the right thing while others game the system. You see it in the workers, who deserve the protection of our laws and the officers who struggle to keep our communities safe while earning the trust of those they serve. That’s why today there’s a growing coalition of law enforcement officials, faith and community leaders and members of labor and business sectors who understand that immigration reform is critical to our security and our prosperity. In the end, our broken immigration system affects more than a single community, it affects our entire country. … I pledge to do everything in my power to forge a bi-partisan consensus, this year on this issue. You know as well as I do that this wont’ be easy and it won’t’ happen overnight. But if we work together across, ethnic state and party lines, we can build a future worthy of our history as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws.”
Despite the attempt to reassure the crowd, calls for reform remained prevalent. The rally brought the return of many immigration activists who had been laying low since an immigration overhaul measure was defeated in Congress in 2007. The resurgence of the activist voice signals deep frustration with inaction, and the hope that Obama will uphold the promises he made.