About 1,500 demonstrators, including many from Toledo, plan to rally outside House Speaker John Boehner’s Springfield office today. Their goal: to urge Congress to immediately pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would include a road to citizenship for 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally.
The Springfield event, which is expected to draw protesters from major Midwestern cities, and northwest Ohio, is part of an effort dubbed “National Day for Dignity and Respect.”
The demonstration at the Republican congressman’s office is expected to be one of the larger gatherings in the country because as Speaker of the House, he has the authority to keep a proposed immigration reform bill already approved by the Senate from being voted on by Congress — something he has done for several months in an attempt to kill the proposed bill.
“Our message to Boehner is that he needs to have the guts to call for a vote,” said Baldemar Velasquez, president of Toledo-based Farm Labor Organizing Committee. “He doesn’t need to be ruled by the hate and prejudice promoted by some folks.” Mr. Velasquez’s organization is transporting 56 demonstrators by bus today and several carloads of protesters will follow, he said.
Mr. Velasquez is one of several state and national leaders slated to speak at the event.
The Springfield rally is being co-sponsored by Ohio Prophetic Voices, PICO National Network’s Campaign for Citizenship, Cincinnati Workers Center, Stand Up for Ohio, SEIU, UFCW, and IUE-CWA.
Similar demonstrations are being held across the country this weekend outside the offices of other Republicans and Democratic congressmen who have opposed or stayed neutral about immigration reform.
A group of about 100 protesters on Friday evening held a candlelight vigil outside the Lorain office of U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) who critics say until recently has been noncommittal about the issue.
Miss Kaptur, who is in Washington, said on Friday afternoon that she wasn’t aware of the planned protest, but would have staff present at the Lorain office to answer any questions they might have. Nationally there are more than 130 rallies planned today.
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