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Seattle Immigration Reform Advocates Stage Civil Disobedience

Carolyn Beeler

Demonstrators pushing for immigration reform staged a rally in downtown Seattle yesterday. They tried to get arrested by blocking elevators in an office building and then tying up traffic. Organizers say this is just the beginning of a campaign of increased agitation for comprehensive immigration reform. KUOW's Carolyn Beeler has more.


Protestors singing: "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine."

Elisa Miranda has linked arms with seven other people who are blocking the entrance to an elevator bank at a downtown office building. It's the building that houses an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Miranda is one of about 40 people who were planning on being arrested for their civil disobedience.

Miranda: "I'm hoping that spending a night in prison will make them understand that we're serious. Just like the people that had the revolution, it's the same reason why we're standing right here, because we believe the government's failing our people."

Miranda is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants, and the daughter of migrant farm workers. She says seeing firsthand the discrimination her parents and grandparents faced made her an activist for immigration reform.

Miranda: "All of us are immigrants to this country, and it's made us who we are, it's made our character. It's who we are. And we need to remember that and be in solidarity with the immigrants coming in and building our country."

The group blocked both entrances to the building's elevators. At least a few people were frustrated with the demonstration and tried to shove their way through the picket line.

Person in crowd: "I have a appointment upstairs. I'm just trying to get inside!"

But after about an hour and a half, no arrests had been made. The demonstrators moved outside where they blocked three different downtown intersections at different times. Police redirected traffic around the demonstrators, but still made no arrests.

Lorena Gonzales is with One America, one of the organizers of the event. She says they'll continue to fight for a legal means for undocumented immigrants to gain citizenship. And for the government to catch up with the backlog of immigration cases that are waiting to be addressed. She says this event marks the start of a fight that won't stop until the legislature and President Obama pass immigration reform legislation.

Gonzales: "I think you're going to see a lot more of these rallies, people's voices are gonna become louder, our demands are going to become louder and more consistent and more pervasive throughout the country."

For KUOW News, I'm Carolyn Beeler.

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