House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi cheerfully led Spanish-language chants of “Si se puede” — or “Yes we can” — at a rally Tuesday for amnesty and immigration, but turnout for the event at the National Mall was far below the organizers’ predictions of 100,000 attendees.
The barriers at the event were set to accommodate 35,000 people, but less than half the area was occupied. Loudspeakers and a large display screen at the rear of the area were almost devoid of listeners or viewers.
The rally was held on public land during a widely hyped government shutdown that has seen the Obama administration rigidly shut tourists, property owners and even World War II veterans out of federally controlled areas. (Related: Obama OKs illegals’ march on Mall, still blocks Americans)
The disappointing turnout, and the poor turnout at a series of Oct. 5 events, will reduce lobbyists’ pressure on the GOP leadership to back a major rewrite of the immigration law, said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies.
Progressives and business leaders, such as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, are working hand-in-glove to pressure the GOP to pass an immigration rewrite. The Senate rewrite, passed in July, would provide an amnesty for 11 million workers, double legal immigration to 2 million per year, and double the number of resident non-agriculture guest-workers above 1.5 million.
Their strategy calls for unions to “rally illegals in the street, and business lobbyists behind closed doors will use the [GOP’s] fear of those demonstrations to get their corporate welfare,” Krikorian told The Daily Caller.
“But if the street demonstrations don’t pan out, that weakens the message of the business lobby,” he said.
Under the Senate bill, which was passed in July, 33 million immigrants would be given green cards by 2033. The inflow of mostly low-skill immigrants would shift more of the nation’s income from wage earners to property owners and investors, according to a July report by the Congressional Budget Office.
The influx would also provide the Democratic Party with millions of new voters after about a decade.
Democrats are working hard to get those Latinos to the ballot box, even at the risk of alienating their base of working-class voters.
Democrats recognize that most immigrants vote Democratic. In 2012, Obama won 71 percent of the Latino vote, and other Democrats hope to repeat that score in 2016.
Immigrants are more likely to vote Democratic because they are poorer, less educated and more reliant on welfare than native-born Americans. They also reduce employers’ need to compete for American employees, minimizing Americans’ wage growth.
In Pelosi’s home state of California, after a massive two-decade influx of legal and illegal immigrants, the poverty rate is 22 percent and Democrats hold all state-wide offices.
“Immigrant poverty, at nearly 30%, is remarkably high,” and is pushed roughly 50 percent above the official level because of high property prices, says a new report by a California group, the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality.
“By and large, we’re a nation of immigrants,” Pelosi told the friendly crowd of cheering Latinos, some of whom carried signs stating they are illegal immigrants.
“We must remember the blood of immigrants flows through all of our veins, and all of the immigrants who come to America, whether it was a month ago or three hundred years ago, all of them bring their hopes, their determination, their optimism for the future, their commitment to family, faith and community,” she declared.
“In coming here with those American traits, all of the immigrants make America more American,” she announced.
“Thank you for making America more American,” she told the crowd of illegals, union organizers, immigrants and citizens.
Mayor Vincent Gray, the embattled mayor of D.C., told the cheering crowd he wanted to award drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants living in the city, and to bar local police help to federal law-enforcement officers responsible for deporting illegals.
The Daily Caller asked him how this policy would help D.C.’s African-Americans find jobs, prompting Gray to change the subject to education funding.
If the Senate bill becomes law, immigrants will comprise one-in-six Americans by 2023, or roughy three times their 5 percent share in 1990, according to data prepared by Krikorian’s center.
Two Republicans also spoke at the D.C. event — Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart. Both are Latinos elected in Florida.
The disappointing turnout was downplayed by most media outlets, including the Washington Post.
The Post didn’t show a photograph of the arena or provide any crowd estimate, but noted that “the crowd was considerably smaller [than expected], and grew even smaller after a popular singing group finished its performance.”
The band, Los Tigres Del Norte, sang songs in Spanish and were enthusiastically applauded by the attendees, nearly all of whom were Latinos.
Their numbers were augmented by large contingents of people from activist groups and unions. For example, the Service Employees International Union had 150 trainees, plus many other organizers, at the event.
Politico merely said the event was attended by “thousands of activists,” and then focused on the preplanned arrest of publicity-hungry progressive activists and politicians for temporarily blocking a nearby road. (Related: Eight Democrats arrested at pro-amnesty rally on ‘closed’ National Mall)