Immigration reform supporters march at the Hill

Asian American groups also part of the rally.

By Crystal Tsoi

WASHINGTON, DC: Thousands of immigration reform supporters marched on at the west front of the US Capitol building during a sweltering Wednesday afternoon demanding swift action by the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” on the immigration reform bill pending in the Senate.

Coinciding with a busy week of congressional activity surrounding the future of immigration reform, the large gathering on the National Mall resoundingly push forth a united message espousing a guarantee to a path for citizenship for immigrants who are here illegally.

Just this past Sunday, Democratic Senator Luis Gutierrez of Illinois expressed on CNN’s “State of the Union” his optimism in the House pushing forth a plan “that is going to be able to go to a conference with the Senate in which we are going to be able to resolve differences.”

However, as Congress creeps closer toward the end of the week, the promise of reconciliation appear to subside as it appears that internal discussion within the House of Representative has uncovered opposition to provisions that are “too friendly to labor” in regards to visas for low-skilled workers, according to Politico.

Republicans seeking to push forth their own legislation in the House in lieu of previous compromise may also quell the optimism in the Senate of swift comprehensive immigration reform that can be reconciled between the Senate and the House.

These talks come at an untimely juncture when the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced earlier this week in a release that it had reached its 65,000 cap for H-1B petition for the 2014 fiscal year within the first week of the filing period. Such visas are reserved for higher-skilled workers and the number of petitions almost twice the quota (124,000), a lottery system will be used to fill the 65,000 cap.

Amidst such uncertainty, those behind the Rally for Citizenship on Wednesday hope that the demonstration is a resounding affirmation that the “time is now” for immigration reform to come to fruition.

The rally today marks the anniversary of rallies that took place in 70 cities across the nation that sought to “defeat anti-immigration legislation in Congress” 7 years ago. The rally itself is the culmination of a National Week of Action for Citizenship.

Labor organizations such as SEIU (Service Employees International Union), UAW (United Auto Workers), LiUNA (Laborers International Union of North American, and many others had a strong presence at Wednesday’s rally.Aside from the strong labor presence, notable congressional members and public officials were listed on the rally agenda such as D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez.

The immigration debate, which has conventionally been regarded as a Latino issue, is also of concern to Asian Americans. And, the rally on Wednesday saw now shortage of Asian American organization with a prominent presence in the rally agenda.

According to a press statement that was distributed widely at the rally by the Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC), a non-profit service organization that deals specifically with issues confronting Filipino workers, “Immigration issues must be addressed comprehensively and in a practical manner.”

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