Rep. Charles Rangel and eight other Democratic members of the House were among 200 people arrested Tuesday evening during a peaceful rally on the National Mall and in front of the U.S. Capitol. They were there demanding Congress pass a comprehensive immigration bill.
Rangel, no stranger to being arrested for major causes, was taken into custody with others by the Capitol Police and charged with “crowding, obstructing and incommoding” under the local laws of the District of Columbia, the police said in a statement. There was no indication when they would be released.
Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn; John Lewis, D-Ga.; Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.; Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz.; Joe Crowley, D-N.Y.; Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.; and Al Green, D-Texas, were the elected officials arrested, along with members of the United Farmworkers and Farmworkers for Justice, and other organizations.
That Rangel, 83, was among the protesters comes as no surprise, because he has been at the forefront of the push for a comprehensive immigration bill, which has been passed by the Senate and backed by President Barack Obama. Getting the House GOP to come aboard remains a task unfinished, thus leaving some 11 million undocumented immigrants lingering in the shadows, waiting to step on the path to citizenship.
Last week, when H.R. 15, the comprehensive immigration reform legislation, was introduced, Rangel was one of the original co-sponsors.
“The enthusiastic demonstration of support for immigration reform this week has proven to Congress that the broad coalition behind common sense solutions to our nation’s broken immigration laws is as strong as it has ever been,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney in a statement praising the protests. “It’s time for the House of Representatives to reopen the government, pay their bills and get back to the important work of moving the economy forward.”
According to a news report, the rally took place after six-time Grammy winners Los Tigres del Norte performed at the National Mall during a show in which the Mexican band dedicated each song to the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally.