During a House panel hearing on asylum fraud, Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee warned her committee colleagues to “be prepared” for immigration protests.
“Let me just take note of the fact and in as calm a voice as I might do so … as I understand it before I came into the chambers there were persons expressing their First Amendment rights and obviously through the protocol of this committee were removed from the committee but they were expressing their consternation, their frustration, their hurt and their pain,” she said.
At the beginning of the hearing, pro-immigration reform protesters shouted, “Citizenship now! Families together!” at lawmakers in the chamber before they were escorted out of the hearing room. Reform Immigration FOR America and the Fair Immigration Reform Movement claimed credit for the disruption.
According to Lee, this summer, immigration reform activists will be out in droves to protest for immigration reform. The Texas congresswoman further compared the activists’ struggle to that of African-Americans during the 1960s.
“Fifty years ago when African Americans were experiencing that kind of pain, they engaged in something called Freedom Summer and it was to emphasize to the nation that we are in essence deserving of a fair plane and justice,” she said. “And so as a member of Congress I am committed to abiding by the law but I would expect that we will see thousands upon thousands of individuals from all backgrounds coming to this Congress in the summer and finally saying ‘enough is enough.’”
She continued, tying her argument to the topic of the hearing by saying that the protesters will be people who might have been granted asylum and “others expressing themselves’ for someone to listen.”
“We can sit here in this committee and talk about violations of the asylum law passed by Sen. Kennedy in 1980, started out with 50,000 asylum seeker provisions now I think we are up to 75,000. That’s now some 24 years, more than 24 years, 30-some years later. So all I can say to my colleagues on this committee is be prepared. Be prepared for those who are feeling the pain of injustice,” Lee said as she posed a question to one of the hearing witnesses about the effect of the immigration case backlog.
Lee’s comments come as Politico reports that immigration reform activists kicked off a campaign Tuesday to pressure Republicans into taking up the issue by publicly confronting them.