Nearly 100 activists rallied for immigration reform outside the federal courthouse in St. Louis this morning, calling on the U.S. House of Representatives to vote on a new immigration reform bill (HR 15.)
The bipartisan bill passed the Senate this summer and includes a pathway to citizenship and tougher border security, but has yet to be brought to a vote in the House.
Police arrested six of the protesters for failing to comply with orders as they sat in the middle of 10th street. One of the protestors arrested, Alison Dreith, said she hopes the arrests prove to Republican Representative Ann Wagner that Missourians are serious about immigration reform.
“We’re out here rallying for dignity and respect for the immigrant and to demand a vote from Representative Ann Wagner,” Dreith said. “We don’t care how she votes on immigration reform, but the time is now to do so.”
Dreith said she's tried, unsuccessfully, to meet with Wagner's office to discuss the bill.
A spokesman for Wagner told St. Louis Public Radio that they have, in fact, met with Dreith. The statement indicates that Wagner and her staff have had "numerous meetings with various groups regarding immigration reform." Her office did not respond to questions about Wagner's stance on HR 15.
Another protester, Norma Andrade, became a citizen last week after living in the U.S. for 19 years. Andrade said it should be easier for undocumented members of her family, who often avoid reporting crimes in fear of deportation.
"For many years I ran away from my own house like I was a criminal, too," Andrade said. "And we're not criminals here. We're only here for work and our own family's safety."
A representative for Democratic Congressman Lacy Clay of Missouri told the crowd he supports HR 15 and will push for a vote on immigration reform in the few weeks remaining before Congress leaves the Capitol.
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