One bus, four days, seven states, 11 cities, nine Congressional offices visited and 40 people riding a bus to advocate for a better path to citizenship.
Those impressive numbers summarize the just-completed “Dream For All Bus Tour” which visited members of the House Judiciary Committee, the politicians who now hold all the cards in the immigration debate. The event was headed by the Minnesota-based Asamblea de Derechos Civiles (the Assembly for Civil Rights – ADDC), an affiliate of the Gamaliel network.
The community leaders toured Midwestern “battleground” states and prodded key members of Congress, including Speaker John Boehner, to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
The reaction of local folks was mixed. While immigration rights groups hosted rallies and dinners to welcome the travelers; congressional staff tended be more guarded. Responses included having the police called to an open welcome. Boehner’s staff said that many groups, pro and anti-immigrant came to their office every week, but few try conversation, as Asamblea did. The staff also told Asamblea members that they believed that action on the bill would occur before the end of the year.
The tour made three stops in Ohio, two stops in Minnesota and Missouri, and one stop each in Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.
“On August 15th, we celebrated the one year anniversary of the executive order, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA),” said Pablo Tapia, co-founder of ADDC. “Gamaliel affiliates across the country made congressional visits to deliver half birthday cakes to members of Congress. The half cakes symbolized immigration reform is only half done. DACA helps many, but it is not a permanent and stable solution. It leaves millions of people out.”
The trip ended on a high note in St. Charles, Missouri. More than 150 local folks, including former state Sen. Patrick Dougherty, Metropolitan Congregations United members, United Congregations of Metro East, Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates and others withstood the steamy heat and marched about a mile to show their support for the travelers. Area Catholics included the head of the local Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Meg Olson, as well as Monsignor Don Schramm who welcomed and blessed the group.
There's another important number: 11 million. That’s how many undocumented men, women, and kids now live in this country. “The House must provide a pathway to citizenship for them,” Tapia said. “We’ll keep organizing until they do.”
(Photo by Laura Barrett)