Immigrant Rights Rally in Front of White House Leads to Arrests

Oct 7, 2021
10:23 PM

Photo by Pablo Manríquez/Latino Rebels

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Hundreds of protesters turned up at Lafayette Square in front of the White House on Thursday for a midday “escalation rally” for immigrant rights. A stage had been constructed for a lineup of speakers who admonished Democrats for failing to enact long-sought relief, despite controlling both houses of Congress and the Oval Office.

“Now is the time to deliver,” said Jennifer Epps-Addison of the Center for Popular Democracy, one of the event speakers. “We have the ability right here, right now, to deliver on an agenda that will fundamentally transform this country into one where all of us are included…. So do not give up. We will not allow this bill to pass without citizenship for all.”

The bill in question is the Democrats’ budget reconciliation bill, currently being negotiated in the Senate. So far the Senate parliamentarian has twice nixed including a legalization program for immigrants in the sprawling multi-trillion-dollar social spending bill. 

“We are asking for leadership to deliver,” said Yadira Sánchez, who traveled from Seattle to attend the rally in the capital. “We need to definitely pass immigration reform through reconciliation.”

One organizer with United We Dream Action told Latino Rebels that her organization had turned out voters for Democrats during the 2020 election.

“The Democrats need to keep citizenship in the reconciliation package,” she said, “and they can pass that with 51 votes. All of the things that are in the reconciliation package as of right now, those are the priorities for our communities. Those are the things that will make a difference in the lives of Latinos.”

After the speakers addressed the crowd, the rally turned into a march as protesters walked through Lafayette Square to the White House. Marchers walked in a circular route chanting until police created a security perimeter, ordering protesters to return to the park and press into a separate staging area.

Nearly 50 protesters defied police, standing on the sidewalk along the North Lawn of the White House. 

After a brief, non-violent standoff with police, law enforcement officials wearing olive green tactical gear began removing protesters from the sidewalk. Protestors were walked by officers to a tented detainment area where they were processed and promptly released back into the crowd at Lafayette Square.

The protesters did not resist detainment by police who, in turn, did not use restraints such as handcuffs or zip-ties on protesters, allowing them instead to walk on their own to the white tents.

Some protesters strutted to the incarceration tent for processing, drawing excited cheers and chants of support from the crowd gathered behind movable steel fences in the park. Friends and allies standing across the square chanted, shook their fists in the air, and blew yellow whistles. 

Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA Maryland, was one of the protesters arrested on the sidewalk in front of the White House.

“They control the White House, the Senate, and the Congress,” Torres told Latino Rebels. “And they promised us Latinos that if they controlled everything, they would get it done.

“Well,” added Torres, “it’s the time to do it.”


Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the protesters resisted detainment. It has been corrected.


Pablo Manríquez is the Washington correspondent for Latino Rebels. Twitter: @PabloReports.