Immigration Advocates Shifting From Persuasion to Punishment

Image: John Boehner Hosts Lighting Ceremony For Capitol Christmas Tree
Immigration reform protesters demonstrate outside the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 3, 2013 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images, file

Immigration advocates sent a message to Republicans Tuesday: “We will be a thorn in your side, every single day. We will be in your face. Get used to seeing us.”

The advocates, members groups that make up the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, pledged to stage escalating “relentless and constant confrontations” against every lawmaker who does not support immigration reform, beginning Tuesday. They said they will take the protests to lawmakers' districts Feb. 17, while members are on recess.

“Republicans may have decided they will take the political gamble of ignoring immigration reform at their own peril. They need to know that choice has serious consequences,” Kica Matos, an immigration leader with the Center for Community Change, said in a conference call with reporters.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., said House Speaker John Boehner could expect immigrants to confront him at breakfast as they did last year. "Mr. Speaker, you are not going to be spared," he said.

The groups also promised to “punish” Republicans electorally for waiting to move on immigration reform. They had a message for President Barack Obama as well regarding record deportations by his administration.

"We call on you to take bold and immediate action to stop these attacks on our communities," Gustavo Torres, director of Maryland-based CASA in Action.

The groups started Tuesday morning with demonstrators chanting “Citizenship Now. Families Together,” at the opening of a House subcommittee hearing on asylum fraud.

Their protest drew an angry face and quick slam of the gavel from the subcommittee chairman Trey Gowdy who had the protesters removed. “If you want to protest you can can leave now or the police will escort you,” Gowdy said.