A dozen protesters were arrested Wednesday outside of U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ office in downtown Spokane.
They were part of a protest calling on Republicans in the House of Representatives to pass sweeping immigration reform.
The 12 detained by Spokane police are members of One America, a national activist group pushing for fixes to what members of both major political parties have repeatedly called a “broken” immigration system.
The protesters, including a Whitman College student, were arrested on charges of interference with vehicular traffic after ignoring requests to disperse, Spokane police spokeswoman Monique Cotton said. The charge is a municipal offense classified as a misdemeanor.
“I am choosing to risk arrest because I believe that immigration reform has been set aside for way too long,” Whitman student Samuel Carillo,18, was quoted in a One America new release. “And as the child of two undocumented parents, nephew of undocumented aunts and uncles, and friend of undocumented acquaintances it is my responsibility to ensure that they are represented through me in some way. I am here to fight for injustice and intolerance.”
Although some of the chants and the messages scribbled on signs were directed at McMorris Rodgers, the third-ranking member of the GOP, much of the criticism was directed at House Speaker John Boehner.
Protesters say Boehner is blocking a House floor vote on legislation passed by the Senate earlier this year that would enact some changes conservative lawmakers won’t stomach. In addition to strengthening border security efforts, the Senate bill also creates a new program for undocumented residents to apply for legal status.
Boehner said Wednesday that the House will not hold formal compromise talks on the Senate-passed comprehensive immigration bill, a fresh signal from the Republican leadership that the issue is dead for the year.
The protest began around 11 a.m. in front of the Peyton Building, where McMorris Rodgers maintains her Spokane office.
Police took all 12 of the advocates, who sat in a circle with their arms intertwined, into custody before 12:45 p.m.
Post Street was closed between Sprague and Riverside avenues during the protest, which included chants and songs imploring the GOP to consider the wide-ranging Senate bill.