Immigration reform protesters 'occupy' Rep. Hastings' office in Pasco

Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldJune 4, 2014 

The Pasco office of U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings was one of many across the country "occupied" Wednesday by protesters interested in immigration reform.

About five protesters, organized by the United Farm Workers union, entered Hastings' office near the Tri-Cities Airport about 10 a.m., said Jorge Valenzuela, UFW regional director.

Other protesters stood outside the building. He said they wouldn't leave until Hastings asked House Speaker John Boehner to call for a vote on immigration reform.

They left in the afternoon after Hastings chief of staff, Jenny Gorski, told them that Hastings would call Boehner on Thursday morning and ask him to move forward on immigration, Valenzuela said.

The protest was meant to mark the one-year anniversary of the Senate passing an immigration bill, Valenzuela said.

"We see that the only person standing in the way of that vote is Speaker John Boehner," he said.

The Coalition for Immigration Reform, which was spearheaded by the UFW, is "occupying" the offices of 27 Republican House members this week, said UFW spokeswoman Luz Pena.

Along with the approaching anniversary of the Senate's immigration bill, they are marking Friday's one-year anniversary of a House vote on an amendment to a Homeland Security appropriations bill that would have supported deporting people eligible under the DREAM Act, a proposed bill designed to protect young people brought into the country illegally as children.

Neither Gorski nor Hastings' press secretary, Neal Kirby, could be reached Wednesday.

Hastings, who is retiring at the end of the year after 10 terms, has said in the past that the Senate bill would only reduce illegal immigration by 25 percent.

He said he would like to see a bill that ends illegal immigration, secures the border with Mexico and creates a guest worker program for agriculture.

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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