On a weekend that saw the Trump administration abort a planned roundup of people said to be facing deportation orders, U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) pledged Sunday that immigration reform advocates will ultimately prevail in their push for “justice” for undocumented persons.
“Some people woke up this morning hoping there were going to be roundups and deportations, but we woke up with our minds set on freedom, and we stopped those deportations for at least two weeks,” Raskin told more than 250 people gathered for an “Immigration Solidarity” event at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Montgomery County.
Federal immigration agents were expected to seize and deport thousands of people in nearly a dozen U.S. cities, including Baltimore, on Sunday, but President Trump called off the action at the last minute to give congressional negotiators more time to reach agreement on reform legislation.
Raskin accused Trump of sparking the crisis at the southern border by cutting aid to Central American countries and his pledge to wall-off the border.
He also slammed the administration for allowing inhumane conditions at U.S. facilities where would-be migrants are being housed.
“The centers are totally overwhelmed and understaffed,” Raskin said, noting recent reports of flu and lice outbreaks, a lack of beds and basic supplies, and other unsanitary conditions.
He pledged that the House will move quickly on a supplemental appropriation to get doctors, lawyers and social workers to the facilities.
“We’re going to make sure that there’s some progress on that this week,” he told the crowd. “We are going to make an investment to address that humanitarian situation.”
Raskin likened Trump to other global “despots” who engage in racist rhetoric and hostility toward immigrants, but he said immigration reform advocates are “walking in the footsteps” of those who have organized on behalf of slaves, racial minorities, women, workers, the LGBT community and others.
“We’re going to turn around this dreadful idea of mass deportations and roundups in cities and counties around the country,” the congressman said. “We’re not going to let that happen.”
At the church, several undocumented persons talked about the challenges they face, and immigrant activists urged supporters of immigrant rights to continue their advocacy.
The event, which lasted nearly two hours, also featured several faith leaders and inspirational songs performed by the D.C. Labor Chorus.
Raskin urged the Senate to pass the Dream Act and the Progress Act, two measures that are priorities for the immigrant community.
“We are going to get through this hard time,” he said.