DC Immigrant Rally Draws a Massive Number of Protestors, Few Journalists

Sep 21, 2021
5:16 PM

Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) speaks at the September 21, 2021 immigration rights rally in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Pablo Manríquez/Latino Rebels)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A massive, diverse crowd of demonstrators organized by CASA Maryland, CHIRLA, United We Dream, and other immigrant rights groups arrived in the national capital on Tuesday for a midday march that began at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) headquarters where Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL) addressed the crowd.


After speeches at ICE headquarters, marchers walked down Independence Avenue to the Capitol plaza in front of the reflecting pool, the same location where, on Saturday, a tiny group of less than 50 far-right extremists staged a “Justice for J6” rally that drew way more press after a weeklong coverage blitz in mainstream media outlets.

Asked by Latino Rebels for a crowd count, a rally organizer said, “I don’t know, but this is way bigger than we expected.”

Tuesday’s immigration rally crowd was many times larger than Saturday’s event, but relatively few reporters we on hand to cover it.

Latino Rebels was there and could confirm that the following three journalists were also there: Janet Rodríguez from Univision, Cristina Londoño from Telemundo, Jazmine Ulloa from The Boston Globe and Sophia Cai from Bloomberg.

The marchers arrived nearly behind schedule in orderly waves of immigrant humanity to the staging area in front of the U.S. Capitol building.

Lawmaker speeches began almost immediately—with a rousing oration by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who excoriated Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough for her controversial decision that leaked Sunday against including a legalization program for eight million immigrants in the Democrats’ budget reconciliation bill. 

In her remarks, Omar called on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to disregard the Parliamentarian’s decision, before exiting stage right into a sea of adoring marchers who posed for photos with the refugee congresswoman from Somalia. 

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) took the stage after Omar’s speech to deliver remarks on the economic benefits of granting immigrants a pathway to legal status.

Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) spoke in English and Spanish of his immigrant roots in California as Leader Schumer arrived to keynote the event.

Here are Leader Schumer’s remarks to the crowd, in full:

America loves immigrants, all immigrants: documented, undocumented, from every corner of the globe. Let me give particular thanks to the immigrant workers, frontline workers who risked their lives during COVID to save peoples’ lives. Mucho gracias to all of you. Let me tell you of a man I met named Recto.

Recto was a home healthcare worker, an undocumented immigrant. He every day before COVID would get on a bus in the Bronx and travel a few miles to take care of three elderly people. They would have not lived without his help.

When COVID came, the bus stopped running. Did Recto stop helping the people? No. He paid for a taxi cab every day to help those people even though he was making sub-minimum, not sub-minimum wage, but very low wages, and could hardly afford it. We owe thanks to Recto but not only to him, but to all of the undocumented a path to citizenship. I will never forget the immigrants who built this country.

Immigration is in my bones. My middle name is Ellis, named for Ellis Island. My daughter’s middle name is Emma for the poet who wrote on the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your poor, tired, huddled masses yearning to be free.” And we want to say that a path to citizenship is the humane thing to do, the moral thing to do, but it is also the economic thing to do.

We need immigrants who don’t fear deportation who can work and travel anywhere to make our economy stronger. So I was very angered and saddened and frustrated by the Parliamentarian’s decision, but are we gonna stop? (Crowd: No!) Senator Padilla, Senator Menendez, Senator Durbin, Senator Luján, Senator Cortez Masto, all of us are meeting in a few hours and we will go back and fight some more.

So I will say to all of you: the combination of the grass-root strength and the friends you have in the Senate means together we will not be defeated.

¡Los gentes [sic]! ¡Unidos! … We will not be defeated!


Pablo Manríquez is Latino Rebels’ Washington correspondent. He is an immigrant from Santiago de Chile with a political science degree from the University of Notre Dame. The Washington Post calls him “an Internet folk hero.” Twitter: @PabloReports.