By Julissa Catalan
On Friday, while politicians gathered in Washington to address the Women’s Leadership Forum of the Democratic National Committee, immigration-reform advocates held a rally outside the venue in hopes of bringing awareness to Latina women.
“This is supposed to be a convention for women, and there are no Latinas representing the undocumented community,” said Maura Pereira, a political organizer from North Carolina. “I hope they do notice that we’re all also women and Latinas living the struggle.”
Pereira protested while linked arm-in-arm with members of the group United We Dream, stretched across Massachusetts Avenue, directly in front of the convention center in which the DNC event was taking place.
The women chanted, “Undocumented, unafraid!” as well as “Everywhere we go, people want to know who we are, so we tell them: We are the women, the mighty, mighty women, fighting for justice and for our families!”
President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) all spoke at the event, which calls on women to vote Democrat in the upcoming midterm elections—which will determine whether the Democratic Party maintains control of the Senate.
Women and Latinos were big contributors to the Democratic vote in the 2012 elections.
However, the United We Dream advocates say they do not align themselves with any political party—particularly when it comes to the recent immigration crisis.
“It’s families. We’re standing with each other; we’re not standing with any political party,” Pereira said.
According to Pereira, undocumented Latinos and their families feel let down by the Obama administration after the President announced a delay in deportation relief until after the elections—even though executive action was expected to take place by the summer.
It is speculated that Republican criticism is the reason behind Obama’s change of plan.
“As he’s in there talking about the future [role] that women will play in America, we want him to really remember the mothers he’s deported,” said Mario Carillo, Communications Director for United We Dream. “We want him to remember the children he’s torn from their families, from their mothers.”
A day before the event, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus demanded that the President act on immigration reform by the end of the holiday season.
Still, this did not satisfy Carillo, who thinks any delay is disappointing.
“I guess they don’t stand with us as Latinos,” he said.
The protesters—including Dreamers brought to the U.S. as children who are currently benefiting from Obama’s last executive order on immigration reform—used the hashtags #DemWomen and #NoMoreDelays to spread their message on social media.
— UnitedWeDream.org (@UNITEDWEDREAM) September 19, 2014
— UnitedWeDream.org (@UNITEDWEDREAM) September 22, 2014