Rally Held Outside Kamala Harris' Home Demands She Fight for Immigrants

A coalition of immigrants' rights groups gathered in front of Vice President Kamala Harris' residence in Washington, D.C., Wednesday to argue that she is uniquely suited to advocate for immigrants due to her powerful role and portfolio in the Biden administration.

Chanting "VP Harris fight for us, you are one of us," and bearing large banners and homemade signs with that tagline as well as "Be our VIP (Vice Immigrant President)" and "Fight for immigrant kids," dozens of activists showed up to share their message and make demands of the vice president.

Along with the kind of chanting familiar at protests by activists, the rally included drumming, music and singing—as well as children from immigrant families sharing their stories about the U.S.-Mexico border, interior enforcement, and the need for a pathway to citizenship.

The groups—which include CASA, Congregation Action Network, FIRM Action and NAKASEC—believe that Harris' roles not only as the president of the Senate, but also as the leader on diplomacy with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to address root causes of increased migration, means she is suited to improve the situation for immigrants.

"We feel that with her new appointment to this task force looking at migration she can really be leveraging that leadership role from there, to her role as president of the senate where her vote is a tiebreaker and can help push legislation," Jenna DeFosse, a communications specialist for CASA told Newsweek.

The coalition cited a Tuesday ruling by the Senate parliamentarian allowing for a budget resolution to occur multiple times to urge Harris to use her power as tie-breaker to help achieve a path to citizenship, despite Congress being the body that takes the lead on legislation.

Other demands include helping craft "solutions for migration at the U.S. southern border to ensure family unity and fight for a humane path to safety for children and families seeking asylum"; discontinuing the use of Title 42, a rule that cites public health during the pandemic to quickly return migrants "without an opportunity to pursue their claims"; and for Harris to push to halt deportations to countries facing serious humanitarian crises, such as Haiti, Cameroon, Guatemala and El Salvador.

DeFosse said it was important to "uplift" countries like Haiti and Cameroon with predominantly Black migrants who don't get as much attention in the immigration debate.

"Some of these countries are designated for [temporary protected status,] some are not, so we're hoping we can get TPS for Cameroon and a redesignation for other countries," she said. "We need this country to be a welcoming place for immigrants and we have the tools to help people already living here to set up avenues and legislation to help them get on a path to citizenship."

The pressure on Harris is a hallmark of immigrant rights groups that believe rallies and protests should not only be reserved for opponents, but should also be directed at allies so they don't become too comfortable.

During her time in the Senate, Harris also positioned herself as a champion of immigrants and is someone many believe to be a leader of the Democratic Party moving forward. Should President Biden decide not to run for reelection, she is a likely contender for the presidency, having already run once—another reason the coalition put the spotlight on Harris.

"She's uniquely positioned," DeFosse said. "She's from an immigrant family herself."

Kamala Harris
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks as President Joe Biden looks on at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia on March 19. ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images