Immigration rights activists supplied plenty of thunder on an otherwise temperate Monday in the nation’s capital, staging a lively and colorful demonstration as a landmark case challenging the constitutionality of President Obama’s executive action deferring deportation for illegal immigrants was being argued before the Supreme Court.
The protests were loud and one-sided. Bilingual chants, drum beats and mariachi music could be heard blocks away from the courthouse and were at times deafening. One of the quieter moments came, paradoxically, when La Santa Cecilia — a Grammy-winning band from Los Angeles — performed before the courthouse steps.
Many wore daisy-yellow T-shirts and carried bouquets of matching-colored balloons. Others held pink, heart-shaped posters that read “Keep Families Together!”
The crowd numbered near 1,000 and spilled into First Street, which was closed off to traffic. Almost all of the demonstrators were there to support President Obama’s executive actions designed to protect millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, but a small squadron of dissenters cropped up toward the back of the crowd. Their American flags at first appeared to be part of the larger chorus waved by immigration rights activists.
Keeping with American tradition, several demonstrators made appeals to the Bible.
One group took its inspiration from Exodus for a long banner reading, in all capital letters, “Let my people vote.” Several men mounted a golden calf on their shoulders and marched through the street — although they appeared to be crashing the protest to stump for campaign finance reform.
Legal analysts were divided on the Obama administration’s prospects in the case, but Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, told the crowd she was encouraged by how the court arguments had gone.
“We are leaving confident,” Ms. Hincapie said. “We know that the law is on our side, Supreme Court precedent is on our side, as many of the justices said, and we are on the right side of history and the law.”
Sophie Cruz, a 6-year-old American citizen whose mother is eligible for the president’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program, made an emotional plea to the Supreme Court after oral argument.
“We are united by a single mission: We want the same rights for all,” she said. “I ask the judges to protect us children and all immigrants.”
A number of immigration activists in the plaza outside the Supreme Court took particular issue with the rhetoric of Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who has promised to crack down on illegal immigration and built a giant wall along on the U.S.-Mexican border. One man wore a black cowboy hat with a “Deport Trump” ribbon wrapped around the crown.
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