The event took up the whole day, starting at 12:00pm and lasting until the early evening. There was a large stage set up on the Mall where musicians performed and political leaders gave speeches. The members of Congress who spoke were Nancy Pelosi, Luis Gutierrez, and Robert Menendez, and Los Tigres del Norte and Lila Downs played concerts that highlighted the immigrant experience. Although I had to spend most of the afternoon in a tent backstage checking in people from the press, I could feel the energy of the crowd nonetheless.
Around 3:00pm I joined protestors in a march from the Mall to the Capitol, where a civil disobedience was scheduled to take place at 4:00pm. I was blown away by the mass of people trekking along Jefferson Drive. Particularly striking was the group of children who led the march, many of them wearing shirts that said “Don’t Deport My Mom.”
As I watched the arrests take place, with the Capitol building looming close in the background, I wondered how long it would actually be before Congress passes reform. When I first started at my internship and attended the women’s civil disobedience on September 12th, it felt like they might call a vote on it before the end of the year. But with Syria and now the shutdown, it is uncertain if immigration reform will pass in that time. I was inspired by all of the people who turned out to rally around the cause, and I hope that Congress will soon start to feel the same urgency that they do.