Top Immigration Group Plans White House Demonstrations on Citizenship to Mark Biden's 100 Days

One of the top immigrant rights groups in the nation is taking the occasion of President Joe Biden's first 100 days in office to hold demonstration at the White House Wednesday, calling once again for Democrats to use political capital to create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the country.

United We Dream, along with partner groups, will hold a "day of action" as part of its "Undeniable!" campaign, urging the White House and Democrats to pursue a 51-vote strategy on a path to citizenship, effectively abandoning working with Republicans on the issue.

"Republican inaction is not an excuse not to deliver," said the group's national communications manager, Jose Muñoz, of the 51-vote strategy.

United We Dream has in recent weeks held events protesting Republicans Senators Marco Rubio in Florida and John Cornyn in Texas, demonstrating outside his Houston office. Munoz said the demonstration were held because Republicans are "doubling down on anti-immigrant attacks aimed at the millions of immigrants living here for decades."

"COVID is a perfect example of how the president and Congress recognized they couldn't give Americans what they needed in terms of COVID relief if they kept waiting for Republicans to come to the table," Muñoz said.

The group's planned demonstrations come after it launched an ad campaign last week, first reported by Newsweek, aimed at Democratic senators to attempt to convince them to adopt a strategy that bypasses the Republicans.

At the beginning of his presidency, Biden proposed a broad overhaul of the nation's immigration system through comprehensive legislation. but it is stalled in the Senate. He signed executive orders meant to reject his predecessor's vision of immigrants as a problem that must be expunged from the country.

But Biden has been mired in a challenging situation due to a surge of migrants at the border and impatient activists who say the time is now for Democrats to lead and deliver for Latinos and immigrants who supported him in the last election.

Jacinta Gonzalez, a senior organizer for grassroots group Mijente, which is not part of the action on Wednesday, told Newsweek it has been difficult to gauge the administration's commitment to getting things done for the immigrant community early in Biden's presidency because so many people continue to be expelled at the border.

"It's been hard to make that assessment," said Gonzalez, pointing to the difficulty early on of judging the White House as it put together its team, amid a concern among advocates that it could be just politics as usual all over again.

During a White House meeting Tuesday with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus broached the idea of immigration planks being part of the coming sweeping infrastructure package Biden is hoping to push through Congress, which the administration is open to, CHC members said last week.
The group's goals are similar to those of United We Dream, including the creation of an earned path to citizenship for Dreamers, farmworkers, essential workers and holders of Temporary Protected Status.

Such delicate negotiations will go a long way towards deciding how progressive allies respond to Biden, and if demonstrations harden into more confrontational protests. At an Eyes on ICE forum Mijente is holding Tuesday, the group will be getting into critiques of the administration around its temporary enforcement priorities that advocates feel are too broad.

"Is the administration going to listen to advocates or continue with the same old, same old?" Gonzalez asked. "If there are consistent negative signs from the administration, if they won't meet with groups, if they're bowing to the right but not having conversations with the left, those are the kinds of things that will impact the tone of the organizing and where we go from here."

On Instagram, United We Dream co-founder Cristina Jimenez previewed the messaging that could still be to come. Previewing the day of action with a flier for the event, the first photo showed activists sitting, arms locked, in front of a sign that read "Obama Deporter In Chief."

With a title in capital letters that read "ACCESS IS NOT POWER" bracketed by exclamation points, Jimenez wrote that private meetings with White House officials are not power, but keeping policy makers accountable and creating favorable outside conditions that lead those in charge to meet demands is.

"The role of movements is to create those conditions," Jimenez wrote, allowing Newsweek to cite her post. "The is the only way that Biden will be forced to lean in and take bold action immigration."

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Vice President Kamala Harris (L) and President Joe Biden meet with cabinet members and immigration advisors in the State Dining Room on March 24, 2021 in Washington, DC. With the number of migrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border reaching a two-decade high, Biden announced that Harris will be leading the White House efforts to handle the crisis at the border. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images