The National Park Service is allowing an Oct. 8 pro-immigration rally on the national mall, even as it posts pickets and barriers to bar Americans from visiting their open-air memorials.
“They’re going to be allowed to go [ahead] because it is a First Amendment activity,” Shannon Maurer, a spokeswoman for the “March for Immigrant Dignity and Respect,” told The Daily Caller.
“They allowed us to have it because it is part of the First Amendment of the constitution,” said Susana Flores, a spokeswoman for CASA in Action, which is organizing the rally. “We’re going to have a stage and microphones,” plus a stand for TV cameras, she said.
The mall is currently marked as closed, and law enforcement officials have have been deployed to picket open-air monuments to keep Americans off their own land.
Critics quickly pounced on what they see as special treatment for the administration’s allies.
“What this means is that the administration is sending a clear message that it’s OK to barricade elderly veterans out of their memorials, but illegal immigrants have to be accommodated no matter what,” Mark Krikorian, director of the anti-immigration Center for Immigration Studies, told The Daily Caller.
“It’s hard to justify closing off open areas [such as the World War II memorial], but to allow a major setup with equipment, electronics and security in a closed area is a little outrageous,” said Krikorian.
Administration officials say a rewrite of the nation’s immigration laws remains a very high priority. Analysts say a pending Senate bill would double immigration and allow 33 million immigrants into the country during the next decade.
The Oct. 8 turnout is uncertain, partly because a nationwide series of Oct. 5 marches showed a low turnout. “We don’t have a number … [maybe] tens of thousands,” for the Oct. 8 event, Flores said.
On Oct. 5, progressive and union groups organized rallies in 40 states, but fewer than 50,000 people turned out, far below their goal of only 130,000 marchers.
Roughly 3,000 people turned out in New York, most of whom were “Asian, Hispanic and Arab,” according to the AFP news agency. That’s less than one percent of the estimated 500,000 illegals in New York, said AFP.
One of the organizers, Linda Sarsour, taunted immigration opponents on Twitter. “This is what America looks like,” she said.
“Several hundred” people turned out in Alabama, “several thousand” people appeared at an event in San Diego, only a short drive from the Mexican border, and only 1,000 people marched in Boston, said The New York Times.
However, the turnout was much larger than has been achieved by groups that want to reduce immigration.
The low turnout by immigration advocates highlights the leading role being played in the immigration debate by business executives, who are seeking a new wave of customers and workers to boost their revenues, said Krikorian.
To get the unpopular bill through Congress, progressives and ethnic lobbies are rallying “illegals in the street, and business lobbyists are working behind closed doors to use the fear of those demonstrations to get their corporate welfare,” he said.
“But if the street demonstrations don’t pan out, that weakens the [clout] of the business lobby,” he said.
The executives are especially influential in the House, because GOP legislators have few incentives to grant citizenship to Democratic-leaning immigrants. Republicans have strong social and professional ties to local business executives, and a perpetual reliance on them for campaign donations.
On Sunday, for example GOP leadership member Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers told the Spanish-language Univision TV station that “I believe that we have a window here between now and the end of the year and that this [immigration rewrite] is a priority.”
“We must pass immigration reform,” claimed McMorris Rodgers.
“It’s a priority for Republicans, for Democrats … important to America, it’s important to our economy,” she insisted, despite polls showing that few Americans or immigrant Latinos want increased immigration, and despite a July forecast from the Congressional Budget office that shows increased immigration will skew the nation’s wealth away from wage-earners.