200 protestors arrested at immigration rally

Hundreds of demonstrators turned out at the National Mall for the rally. Photo: Hatzel Vela

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Sandra Castillo was one of hundreds to join Tuesday's immigration rally on the National Mall, where dozens were arrested.

Castillo, 21, drove an entire day from Minnesota to get to the nation's capital.

"To me, to my family, to my friends, to every oneā€¦this is important to everyone. We are tired," said Castillo, a college student who admitted she and her family are undocumented.

"We want to come out of the shadows," she added.

"This is the really the moment," said Jose La Luz, a protestor, who drove from Orlando to take part in the rally.

La Luz wore a red arm band, a sign he would be one of the dozens to be arrested in a show of civil disobedience.

POLITICO reports eight members of Congress, including civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), were also arrested during the rally.

"We have to somehow bring attention to the urgency that this matter has," La Luz said.

He added civil disobedience was only a small sacrifice compared to that of families who are often separated and deported.

"America should not have a permanent under class. That's why we're here and that's why we believe this is the moment," La Luz said.

Hundreds, if not thousands of others, echoed a similar sentiment. The rally called, Camino Americano, or the the American Way, featured local and national leaders, including politicians from both sides of the political aisle.

"We elected our representatives to Congress to handle a whole range of issues and the time is now for immigration reform. Eleven million people can't wait anymore," said Sharita Gruberg, a member of the Center for American Progress.

"We have to somehow bring attention to the urgency that this matter has," La Luz said.

But because of the looming federal shutdown and the debt ceiling debate, there is skepticism Congress will pass immigration reform.

"We have so many Americans out of work. Twenty-two million plus that it makes absolutely no sense to be pushing amnesty right now," said Brad Botwin, who was out there counter protest the immigration rally.

Botwin is director of Help Save Maryland, a non-profit organization that according to its website is a "multi-ethnic, grassroots, citizens' organization dedicated to providing facts regarding illegal aliens who live and/or work in Maryland."

"It's all very expensive to accommodate more population. We don't really need more people and I think it's time to end immigration," said Jim McDonald, another anti illegal immigration protestor.

"Congress has an obligation to fix this broken system," said La Luz, who believes bipartisan votes exists in the House.

"This is an inevitable tide," said Senator Bob Menendez, a democrat from New Jersey who spoke to the crowd.

Menendez was part of the Gang of Eight in the Senate, which passed an immigration reform bill in June.

"Even with a shut down, the promise of immigration reform can not end in the House," he added. "All they have to do is to have a vote."

Republican Congressman Maria Diaz-Balart of Florida also attended the rally and feels optimistic his colleagues in the House will act.

"We're working in a bi-partisan way to quietly get votes, make sure it's legislation that people understand so that we can get the votes to move forward," Diaz-Balart said.

La Luz said his community can no longer wait.

"This is about family values, family reunification. This is about border security. And most of all, this is about American justice," he said.