Immigrant rights activists protested in multiple cities Wednesday, pushing against the border surge amendment in the United States Senate’s immigration bill. The so-called surge would double the number of Border Patrol agents. In Tucson, protesters were targeting Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
About 60 people gathered near the federal courthouse downtown. They were protesting the proposal to double the number of border agents across the Southwest border. They also chanted familiar complaints against the U.S. Border Patrol and demanded investigations into agent-involved shootings on the border.
"Certainly this is just the start of much broader movements happening across the U.S. as more and more communities as more communities are trying to engage with the immigration reform debate," said Sarah Launius of No More Deaths, a private organization that tries to rescue migrants lost in the desert.
Just who in Washington D.C. will listen remains to be seen. Protesters carried a makeshift border wall down the street to McCain’s office. The Senator was in Washington but the activists want to convince him that folks on the border who oppose the security buildup need to be listened to.
Meanwhile, in the suburban San Diego city of Vista, Calif., 70 protesters protested outside the office of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). Pedro Rios, director of the American Friends Service Committee, helped organize the protest there.
"What we’re looking at is the possibility of a slippery slope – the increase of border agents without any oversight or increased accountability measures will increase the number of cases of abuse that we’ve seen over the past several years,” Rios said.
The border security buildup is considered a crucial concession to convince Republicans to approve any comprehensive immigration reform bill.