A group of about 40 pro-immigration activists led a protest Thursday outside the office of Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., one of a group of eight senators working to draft overhaul legislation. The group is upset about delays in finishing the bill.
“The so-called gang of eight, including Sen. Schumer, had said we will have this finished by the end of March,” said Elizabeth Alex, director of central Maryland voter engagement for Casa in Action. “We know they are about to leave on vacation. … There is still no bill.
“We don’t want this to get pushed to the back burner. Every day that they wait more and more immigrant families are being separated,” Alex continued. “So we just came today to remind them that the time is now. They need to do what they promised to do.”
Five members of the group were arrested, Alex said.
Schumer, coming out of a news conference on the budget resolution, said he did not know protesters were at his office, but said he is sympathetic to their concerns and their desire for a bill to get done quickly.
“I understand people’s frustration. People have waited a long time,” Schumer said. “But we are real close for the first time to coming up with a bipartisan agreement that has a darn good chance at becoming law and we’ll need all the support we can get.”
The New York Democrat said he and the “gang of eight” had met once Thursday and had plans to meet again in the afternoon. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., who appeared with Schumer at the budget news conference where he faced immigration questions, defended and praised his hard work. She noted that every time she calls Schumer — she is his deputy in the Senate Democrats’ messaging operation — he is always in an immigration meeting or coming from one.
Schumer emphasized that the group is on pace to meet its target for legislative language by the end of March.
“We are very close to agreement. It’s a long, hard road, but we met this morning for two hours. We’re meeting again this afternoon. And we expect to meet our goal of having an immigration — comprehensive immigration reform … supported by all eight of us,” Schumer said. “We’re on track.”