November 21, 2014

Obama's Immigration Reform: Ending Capitol Hill Run Around

Back in June, I saved these photos by Getty’s Chip Somodevilla taken on Capitol Hill. What they document is a delegation from the immigration youth organization, United We Dream, visiting the offices of House members to advocate against deportations and the demagoguing of immigrant children by conservative members.

These first two photos are from Republican Darryl Issa’s office. The one below features staffers from the office of Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, chairperson of the Democratic National Committee.

Of course, these office can only accommodate so many people. And staff people, no matter how receptive, are gatekeepers nonetheless. Still, what I imagine Somodevilla was sensitive too, and the photos reflect, is the exclusivity and, ultimately, the exclusionary atmosphere in the halls of power. Obvious, and poignant too, is the similarity in age — the staffers and the Dreamers peers in that regard. That’s about where the comparison seems to end, though. I don’t know what the racial and ethnic breakdown is among Congressional staffers, but this sampling — I’m guessing, mostly drawn from elite schools and families — is exclusively white.

In the next days and weeks, there’s going to be a lot of vitriol over why Obama went around Congress last night to implement immigration reforms by executive order, especially the granting of legal status to parents of children born in the United States. Tell it to the Dreamers.

(photos: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images caption 1 & 2: A staffer prevents additional members of the immigrant youth-led organization United We Dream from entering the office of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) as they demonstrate against lawmakers who do not support an end to deportations in the Rayburn House Office Building on Captiol Hill June 27, 2014 in Washington, DC. The group visited GOP congressional offices to ‘call out Republicans on anti-immigrant remarks.’.caption 3: Members from the immigrant youth-led organization United We Dream meet with members of Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s (D-FL) staff as the group demonstrates against lawmakers who do not support an end to deportations in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill June 27, 2014 in Washington, DC.)

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Michael Shaw
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